Galileos Discoveries and how they have Influenced our Lives

Throughout recorded history the scientifically inclined have always felt suppression. In ancient Greece the growing scientific movement was replaced by a growing mathematical and thought-centered movement. Anaximander and Democritus’ experimentation and observation was overthrown by Plato and Pathagoreus’ school of thinking and mathematics. Soon after that the church took over and many schools of thought, including all of these, were suppressed. Galileo Galilee was not the first scientist to help clear some of the fog of human thinking. He was by far the most controversial of his time. While those who came before him did lay the necessary stepping stones for him to climb Galileo was the “founding father of modern science.”

Galileo Galilee was born in Italy. He studied medicine at the University of Pisa but eventually became the professor of mathematics. His spitfire personality led to some confrontations with his peers. These issues eventually led to him leaving the University of Pisa. He found work again at the University of Padua. At some point in his journeys he befriended astronomer Johannes Kepler who passed along Copernicus’ book. This was the wood being piled in the proverbial fire pit.

Galileo did not invent the telescope. He heard of the invention and created his own. The discoveries he made using this device showed us that human senses could be aided artificially to make new discoveries about our universe.

Using his telescope Galileo made many new discoveries about space. He announced that there were mountains on the moon. He told that the Milky Way is made up of stars. He observed and explained sunspots. He also discovered that Jupiter has at least four moons. Their orbital behavior convinced him of Copernicus’ idea and he became a follower of Copernican theory. The church did not like Copernicus and his works were illegal in Italy.

At this time in Western history people were following a geocentric religion and theories set forth by Aristotle. The moons orbiting Jupiter proved that everything in space didn’t revolve around the earth. This contradicted church doctrine at that time. He also told people that the sun changes. According to Aristotle the heavens never change. These discoveries of Galileo’s disproved some of the beliefs of these two trains of thought. Galileo was in trouble because some very powerful people relied on the beliefs of geocentrism and Aristotle.

Copernicus was the first in the west to proclaim a heliocentric universe. When Johannes Kepler gave Galileo a copy of Copernicus’ banned book he gave him another step to build the foundation of human knowledge on. He also gave him another reason for the church and authority to condemn him. He was eventually found guilty of heresy for advocating Copernican theory. He tried to be good for a while and only discussed Copernican theory in mathematical terms.

He finally got burnt by the fire he had been playing with when he wrote “Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems.” This work had three characters; the “Pope-like” man arguing Ptolemaic (geocentric) theory, a second man arguing Copernican theory, and a third man whom they were each trying to convince. This satire was the flame that lit the inferno of the inquisition.

The papacy had had enough of Galileo and his “revolt of reason.” Under threat of death he was forced to retract his teachings. He was sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of his life. His book was banned, although copies were smuggled to the rest of Europe.

Galileo spent the rest of his life concentrating on physics. He wrote another book, “Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences,” this one was not as controversial. He died on the same day Isaac Newton was born, the man who would build so much upon his knowledge. Hundreds of years later in Nineteen Ninety Two Galileo Galilee was exonerated by the church.

Galileo used the new instruments of his time and the work of his scientific forefathers to expose people to our universe for the first time. He laid the necessary stepping stones for future scientists to be able to further explain the universe. Through his experimentation he made many positive contributions to systematic science. Galileo revolutionized the world and gave us many important truths. Where Copernicus was John Locke, Galileo was Thomas Jefferson. He truly was the founding father of modern science.

*This report was written using two books.

1. “Notable Scientists: A to Z of Scientists in Space or Astronomy” by: Deborah Todd and Joseph A. Angelo Jr.

2. Collier’s Encyclopedia 1994