Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564– 8 January 1642) was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the "father of modern observational astronomy," the "father of modern physics," the "father of science"and "the Father of Modern Science."Stephen Hawking says, "Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science."
The motion of uniformly accelerated objects, taught in nearly all high school and introductory college physics courses, was studied by Galileo as the subject of kinematics. His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, named the Galilean moons in his honour, and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, improving compass design.
Galileo's championing of Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime, when a large majority of philosophers and astronomers still subscribed (at least outwardly) to the geocentric view that the Earth is at the centre of the universe. After 1610, when he began supporting heliocentrism publicly, he met with bitter opposition from some philosophers and clerics, and two of the latter eventually denounced him to the Roman Inquisition early in 1615. Although he was cleared of any offence at that time, the Catholic Church nevertheless condemned heliocentrism as "false and contrary to Scripture" in February 1616, and Galileo was warned to abandon his support for it—which he promised to do. When he later defended his views in his most famous work, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy," forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
Image & Text:wikipedia.com
A year ago last October I was in Italy with my good friend Deb Cornue and my sister Julie and her husband Tom Martin. We spent an afternoon in Pisa on a very hot day. Tom and I climbed to to the top of the Leaning Tower and thought of Galileo's experiment. I was most impressed, however, by the interior of the bapistry and adjoining Cathedral, which foreshadowed those in our later visits to Siena and Orvieto.