Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath, from Pisa. Galileo has been called the "father of observational astronomy", the "father of modern physics", the "father of the scientific method", and the "father of modern science".
Galileo studied speed , gravity and free fall, the principle of relativity, inertia, projectile motion and also worked in applied science and technology, describing the properties of pendulums and "hydrostatic balances", inventing the thermoscope and various military compasses, and using the telescope for scientific observations of celestial objects. His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the observation of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, the observation of Saturn's rings, and the analysis of sunspots.
Galileo's championing of heliocentrism was controversial during his lifetime, when most subscribed to geocentric models such as the Tychonic system. He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism because of the absence of an observed stellar parallax. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, which concluded that heliocentrism was "foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture. He was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", and forced to recant. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest. While under house arrest, he wrote «Two New Sciences», in which he summarized work he had done some forty years earlier on the two sciences now called kinematics and strength of materials.
Early life and family
Galileo was born in Pisa (then part of the Duchy of Florence), Italy, on 15 February 1564, the first of six children of Vincenzo Galilei, a famous lutenist, composer, and music theorist, and Giulia (nee Ammannati), who had married in 1562. Galileo became an accomplished lutenist himself and would have learned early from his father a scepticism for established authority, the value of well-measured or quantified experimentation, an appreciation for a periodic or musical measure of time or rhythm, as well as the results expected from a combination of mathematics and experiment.
Three of Galileo's five siblings survived infancy. The youngestMichelangelo , also became a noted lutenist and composer although he contributed to financial burdens during Galileo's young adulthood. Michelangelo was unable to contribute his fair share of their father's promised dowries to their brothers-in-law, who would later attempt to seek legal remedies for payments due. Michelangelo would also occasionally have to borrow funds from Galileo to support his musical endeavours and excursions. These financial burdens may have contributed to Galileo's early desire to develop inventions that would bring him additional income.
When Galileo Galilei was eight, his family moved to Florence, but he was left with Jacopo Borghini for two years. He was educated from 1575 to 1578 in the Vallombrosa Abbey, about 30 km southeast of Florence.
Galileo made original contributions to the science of motion through an innovative combination of experiment and mathematics. More typical of science at the time were the qualitative studies of William Gilbert, on magnetism and electricity. Galileo's father, Vincenzo Galilei, a lutenist and music theorist, had performed experiments establishing perhaps the oldest known non-linear relation in physics: for a stretched string, the pitch varies as the square root of the tension. These observations lay within the framework of the Pythagorean tradition of music, well-known to instrument makers, which included the fact that subdividing a string by a whole number produces a harmonious scale. Thus, a limited amount of mathematics had long related music and physical science, and young Galileo could see his own father's observations expand on that tradition.
Galileo was one of the first modern thinkers to clearly state that the laws of nature are mathematical. His work marked another step towards the eventual separation of science from both philosophy and religion. A major development in human thought. He was often willing to change his views in accordance with observation. In order to perform his experiments, Galileo had to set up standards of length and time, so that measurements made on different days and in different laboratories could be compared in a reproducible fashion. This provided a reliable foundation on which to confirm mathematical laws using inductive reasoning.
Galileo showed a modern appreciation for the proper relationship between mathematics, theoretical physics, and experimental physics. He understood the parabola, both in terms of conic sections and in terms of the ordinate (y) varying as the square of the abscissa (x). Galileo further asserted that the parabola was the theoretically ideal trajectory of a uniformly accelerated projectile in the absence of air resistance or other disturbances.
Based only on uncertain descriptions of the first practical telescope which Hans Lippershey tried to patent in the Netherlands in 1608, Galileo, in the following year, made a telescope with about 3x magnification. He later made improved versions with up to about 30x magnification. With a Galilean telescope, the observer could see magnified, upright images on the Earth—it was what is commonly known as a terrestrial telescope or a spyglass. He could also use it to observe the sky. For a time he was one of those who could construct telescopes good enough for that purpose. On 25 August 1609, he demonstrated one of his early telescopes, with a magnification of about 8 or 9, to Venetian lawmakers. His telescopes were also a profitable sideline for Galileo, who sold them to merchants who found them useful both at sea and as items of trade. He published his initial telescopic astronomical observations in March 1610 in a brief treatise entitled Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger).
On 7 January 1610, Galileo observed with his telescope what he described at the time as "three fixed stars, totally invisible by their smallness", all close to Jupiter, and lying on a straight line through it. Observations on subsequent nights showed that the positions of these "stars" relative to Jupiter were changing in a way that would have been inexplicable if they had really been fixed stars. On 10 January, Galileo noted that one of them had disappeared, an observation which he attributed to its being hidden behind Jupiter. Within a few days, he concluded that they were orbiting Jupiter: he had discovered three of Jupiter's four largest moons. He discovered the fourth on 13 January. Galileo named the group of four the Medicean stars, in honour of his future patron, Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Cosimo's three brothers. Later astronomers, however, renamed them Galilean satellites in honour of their discoverer. These satellites were independently discovered by Simon Marius on 8 January 1610 and are now called Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, the names given by Marius in his Mundus Iovialis published in 1614.
Galileo's observations of the satellites of Jupiter caused a revolution in astronomy: a planet with smaller planets orbiting it did not conform to the principles of Aristotelian cosmology, which held that all heavenly bodies should circle the Earth, and many astronomers and philosophers initially refused to believe that Galileo could have discovered such a thing. His observations were confirmed by the observatory of Christopher Clavius and he received a hero's welcome when he visited Rome in 1611. Galileo continued to observe the satellites over the next eighteen months, and by mid-1611, he had obtained remarkably accurate estimates for their periods.
Galileo observed the planet Saturn, and at first mistook its rings for planets, thinking it was a three-bodied system. When he observed the planet later, Saturn's rings were directly oriented at Earth, causing him to think that two of the bodies had disappeared. The rings reappeared when he observed the planet in 1616, further confusing him.
Galileo also observed the planet Neptune in 1612. It appears in his notebooks as one of many unremarkable dim stars. He did not realise that it was a planet, but he did note its motion relative to the stars before losing track of it.
Galileo made a number of contributions to what is now known as engineering, as distinct from pure physics. Between 1595 and 1598, Galileo devised and improved a geometric and military compass suitable for use by gunners and surveyors. This expanded on earlier instruments designed by Niccolò Tartaglia and Guidobaldo del Monte. Under Galileo's direction, instrument maker Marc'Antonio Mazzoleni produced more than 100 of these compasses, which Galileo sold (along with an instruction manual he wrote) for 50 lire and offered a course of instruction in the use of the compasses for 120 lire.
In 1593, Galileo constructed a thermometer, using the expansion and contraction of air in a bulb to move water in an attached tube.
In 1609, Galileo was, along with Englishman Thomas Harriot and others, among the first to use a refracting telescope as an instrument to observe stars, planets or moons. The name "telescope" was coined for Galileo's instrument by a Greek mathematician, Giovanni Demisiani, at a banquet held in 1611 by Prince Federico Cesi to make Galileo a member of his Accademia dei Lincei. The name was derived from the Greek tele = far and skopein = to look. In 1610, he used a telescope at close range to magnify the parts of insects.
In 1612, having determined the orbital periods of Jupiter's satellites, Galileo proposed that with sufficiently accurate knowledge of their orbits, one could use their positions as a universal clock, and this would make possible the determination of longitude.Late in his life, when totally blind, Galileo designed an escapement mechanism for a pendulum clock (called Galileo's escapement), although no clock using this was built until after the first fully operational pendulum clock was made by Christiaan Huygens in the 1650s.
Galileo's theoretical and experimental work on the motions of bodies, along with the largely independent work of Kepler and René Descartes, was a precursor of the classical mechanics developed by Sir Isaac Newton. Galileo conducted several experiments with pendulums. It is popularly believed (thanks to the biography by Vincenzo Viviani) that these began by watching the swings of the bronze chandelier in the cathedral of Pisa, using his pulse as a timer. Galileo claimed that a simple pendulum is isochronous, i.e. that its swings always take the same amount of time, independently of the amplitude. In fact, this is only approximately true, as was discovered by Christiaan Huygens. Galileo also found that the square of the period varies directly with the length of the pendulum.
Galileo is lesser known for, yet still credited with, being one of the first to understand sound frequency. By scraping a chisel at different speeds, he linked the pitch of the sound produced to the spacing of the chisel's skips, a measure of frequency. In 1638, Galileo described an experimental method to measure the speed of light by arranging that two observers, each having lanterns equipped with shutters, observe each other's lanterns at some distance. The first observer opens the shutter of his lamp, and, the second, upon seeing the light, immediately opens the shutter of his own lantern. The time between the first observer's opening his shutter and seeing the light from the second observer's lamp indicates the time it takes light to travel back and forth between the two observers. Galileo reported that when he tried this at a distance of less than a mile, he was unable to determine whether or not the light appeared instantaneously. Sometime between Galileo's death and 1667, the members of the Florentine Accademia del Cimento repeated the experiment over a distance of about a mile and obtained a similarly inconclusive result. We now know that the speed of light is far too fast to be measured by such methods (with human shutter-openers on Earth).
According to Stephen Hawking, Galileo probably bears more of the responsibility for the birth of modern science than anybody else, and Albert Einstein called him the father of modern science.
Galileo's astronomical discoveries and investigations into the Copernican theory have led to a lasting legacy which includes the categorisation of the four large moons of Jupiter discovered by Galileo (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) as the Galilean moons. Other scientific endeavours and principles are named after Galileo including the Galileo spacecraft, the first spacecraft to enter orbit around Jupiter, the proposed Galileo global satellite navigation system, the transformation between inertialsystems in classical mechanics denoted Galilean transformation and the Gal (unit), sometimes known as the Galileo, which is a non-SI unit of acceleration.
Partly because the year 2009 was the fourth centenary of Galileo's first recorded astronomical observations with the telescope, the United Nations scheduled it to be the International Year of Astronomy. A global scheme was laid out by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), also endorsed by UNESCO—the UN body responsible for educational, scientific and cultural matters. The International Year of Astronomy 2009 was intended to be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, stimulating worldwide interest not only in astronomy but science in general, with a particular slant towards young people. Asteroid 697 Galilea is named in his honour.
Galileo continued to receive visitors until 1642, when, after suffering fever and heart palpitations, he died on 8 January 1642, aged 77. The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando II, wished to bury him in the main body of the Basilica of Santa Croce, next to the tombs of his father and other ancestors, and to erect a marble mausoleum in his honour.
These plans were dropped, however, after Pope Urban VIII and his nephew, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, protested, because Galileo had been condemned by the Catholic Church for "vehement suspicion of heresy". He was instead buried in a small room next to the novices' chapel at the end of a corridor from the southern transept of the basilica to the sacristy. He was reburied in the main body of the basilica in 1737 after a monument had been erected there in his honour. During this move, three fingers and a tooth were removed from his remains. One of these fingers, the middle finger from Galileo's right hand, is currently on exhibition at the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy.