Galileo Galilei was an illustrious seventeenth century mathematician. Besides being a spectacular mathematician, he was an equally brilliant physicist, philosopher, engineer and Italian polymath. Galileo is credited for amazing scientific discoveries which revolutionized the world in the centuries that followed. He made the telescopic observation of the phases of Venus and confirmed the four largest satellites of Jupiter. Following this discovery, to honour Galileo, Jupiter moons were named after him as Galilean moons. Furthermore, his services are noted in the applied science and technology. Enhanced military compass and some other instruments were some of his inventions.
Galileo Galilei was born on 15 February, 1564 in Pisa, Duchy of Florence, Italy. He came from a family of musically gifted parent. His father Vincenzo Galilei was a composer, music theorist, having a virtuoso for playing lute. He had five sibling of which only three survived infancy. Michelangelo was the youngest and a noteworthy lutenist and composer. His family moved to Florence when he was eight, leaving him for two years with Jacopo Borghini. He received his education from Camaldolese Monastery at Vallombrosa.
In spite of being a devout Roman Catholic, Galileo had an illicit affair with Marina Gamba and had three children out of wedlock with her. Ironically, at a young age he considered joining priesthood. However, his father persuaded him studying medicine at University of Pisa. During his medical study he encountered a normal but a strange incident by his standards. He saw a chandelier swinging from side to side in smaller and larger arcs. He compared the phenomena with the heartbeat that it takes same amount of time to go to and fro. He set up two equal-length pendulums to test his time hypothesis by shifting the swing force. They also took the same amount of time to go back and forth. A century later Christian Huygens used pendulum to develop an accurate timepiece.
Galileo could not gain any exposure to mathematics deliberately until then because physicians were known to be financially prosperous than mathematician. Albeit, subsequent to attending a lecture on geometry, he approached his father to allow him to study natural philosophy and mathematics. He developed a forerunner of the thermometer that was known as thermoscope. It was followed by the publication of a book on hydrostatic’s design. Moreover, Galileo was familiar with disegno as he studied fine art. He even garnered an instructor’s position at the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno where he taught chiaroscuro and perspective. The post-Renaissance air was still felt in the seventeenth century Florence which stimulated his aesthetic sensibility.
University of Pisa appointed him the chair, in 1589. Two years later his father passed away leaving Michelagnolo in his care. Subsequently, he switched to University of Padua teaching an array of subjects including astronomy, geometry and mechanics for two decade. Those years are marked as crucially significant in term of monumental discoveries in applied and fundamental science. He devised methods to gauge the strength of material and pioneered a stupendous instrument, the telescope, in applied science. While in fundamental science he is credited for discovering kinematics of motion and made unprecedented progress in astronomy.
Galileo was arrested for lifetime upon the charges of heresy for his views on heliocentrism. He tried defending his beliefs in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Instead of being seen as a justification of his views, it was presumed an attack on Pope Urban VIII which led to the Roman Inquisition to keep under house arrest. Galileo still continued to work under house arrest as he summarized his earlier works in, Two New Sciences.