For those who love all things Italian... 

                                                     GALILEO GALILEI, THE FATHER OF MODERN SCIENCE, PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY..

Galileo Galilei was an Italian mathematician, philosopher, physicist, inventor and astronomer. Born in Pisa, Italy the 15th of February, 1564, When Galileo Galilei was 8, his family moved to Florence, but he was left with Jacopo Borghini for two years. He then was educated in the Camaldolese Monastery at Vallombrosa, 35 km southeast of Florence. Galileo studied and invented many things society now takes for granted.


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"


Though he never received a college degree, he was granted teaching positions at multiple universities after making many scientific discoveries. He fashioned one of the first telescopes in order to see the moon and faraway unknown planets.


His studies of space led him to believe that the Earth revolves around the Sun, contradicting the theory condoned by the Catholic Church that the Earth was the center of the universe. Even though he was brought before the pope on multiple occasions to account for his disregard of the Bible's teachings, he continued writing, discovering and teaching things that would help to eventually prove his theory.  His studies of space also helped to create a consistent yearly calendar in the 1600s.  In 2010, there are only two of the telescopes made by Galileo left in existence. They are cycled through museums all over the world in exhibits on astronomy.

Major Contributions

  • Galileo's first telescope not only led to the discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, it also helped him to study sunspots, the Moon, the four satellites of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and to observe a supernova. He wrote about his discovers in his many pamphlets he published while teaching in Siena, Pisa and Padua.
  • Due to his money troubles, and responsibility for his sister's dowries, Galileo had to make extra money outside of his modest teaching salary. To do this he invented many small contraptions like a pump to lift water from the ground, a thermoscope (one of the first versions of a thermometer). Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments.. He sold these items to people all over Italy to support his family.

For Galileo, the tides were caused by the sloshing back and forth of water in the seas as a point on the Earth's surface speeded up and slowed down because of the Earth's rotation on its axis and revolution around the Sun. He circulated his first account of the tides in 1616, addressed to Cardinal Orsini. His theory gave the first insight into the importance of the shapes of ocean basins in the size and timing of tides; he correctly accounted, for instance, for the negligible tides halfway along the Adriatic Sea compared to those at the ends.


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 showed a remarkably 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). Galilei further asserted that the parabola was the theoretically ideal trajectory of a uniformly accelerated projectile in the absence of friction and other disturbances. He conceded that there are limits to the validity of this theory, noting on theoretical grounds that a projectile trajectory of a size comparable to that of the Earth could not possibly be a parabola, but he nevertheless maintained that for distances up to the range of the artillery of his day, the deviation of a projectile's trajectory from a parabola would only be very slight.

  • While teaching at the University of Pisa, Galileo investigated the laws of gravity. He discovered that all objects fall at the same rate despite their density. Today we call this the law of uniform acceleration. He recorded his findings in his book called De Motu, meaning on motion.
  • Galileo's study of isochronism, through the swinging of a pendulum, led to the creation of pendulum clocks.