Galileo Galilei’s ideas and theories were disputed and snubbed by many people of his time, yet these revolutionary ideas strongly influenced many important discoveries in the fields of science and mathematics. Although Galileo is most known for his interest and ideas in science, he did not pursue that area of interest as a young adult. He originally aspired to become a priest and began his studies in priesthood. This career was not followed for long before he left and enrolled in the University of Pisa for a medical degree, which was never completed. Galileo’s interest had shifted to that of mathematics. In 1592, at the age of twenty-eight, he was appointed mathematician of the University of Padua with a high salary and a deep knowledge of mathematics. There in Padua, he met his wife Marina Gamba and had their three children Virginia, Livia, and Vincenzo. During this period, he began work on his telescope which was certified by the Collegio Romano in Rome in 1610 and used to discover the moons of Jupiter. One year later, he joined the Academia dei Lincei, quite possibly the first scientific society in history.
One of Galileo’s greatest contributions to science and technology is his invention of the telescope. Galileo stated, “I discovered in the heavens many things that had not been seen before our own age”. His invention allowed a much wider knowledge of the universe outside of our earth. With the telescope he invented, Galileo himself discovered the moons of Jupiter. This discovery led him to make the statement, “I perceived (as I had not before, on account of the weakness of my previous instrument) that beside the planet there were three starlets, small indeed, but very bright” (Moons of Jupiter). Also with his telescope he saw that the moon’s surface was irregular and had craters, it was not smooth all the way around as was previously believed by scientists. While studying the stars and other celestial bodies, his observations confirmed Copernicus’s theory about the earth’s orbit. He proved that the earth orbits around the sun, instead of the other way around. This idea was not accepted by the general public. In fact, he was denounced by the church and put under house arrest because they believed his theories to be heresy. In a letter from the church to him, they declare his theory about the earth’s orbit to be, “absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures”. He died in 1642 while under house arrest, and was buried in obscurity due to his conviction. His brilliance was overlooked and ignored by the church and many other people because of their unwillingness to change their long held beliefs about the universe.
In addition to the telescope, Galileo made other significant contributions and inventions critical to science as we know it today. Another one of his inventions was the microscope, an essential tool used regularly by scientists, doctors, and students to examine matter too small to view with the naked eye. Galileo is also credited as one of the first scientists to carry out experiments to prove his theories. This prevented the spread of inaccurate theories and conjectures proposed by scientists without much basis for their ideas. Today, theories relating to science are rarely accepted without substantial evidence, usually obtained through experimental procedures. Also created by Galileo, was mathematical physics. His integration of mathematics and physics led to a broader understanding of the interactions of matter and energy, still widely studied today. Although Galileo lived over three hundred years ago, his theories and inventions are still valid today, and like many other brilliant people, their brilliance is overlooked until after their death.