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The Life Of Galileo

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  1. The life of Galileo Galilei:

Galileo Galilei was born on the 15th February 1564 in Pisa, Italy. He is a physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, he is known for his contributions to science.

 Early Life

Galileo’s family was part of the upper class, though they were not rich people. In 1581, Galileo studied medicine at the University of Pisa to please his father. But then dropped the course, and chose to do philosophy and mathematics instead. In 1589 he became a professor and taught mathematics at the University of Pisa and University of Padua (1592 – 1610).

While at university he began experiments on motion, mechanics and astronomy.

The Pendulum:

 It was in 1602 that Galileo had made a significant discovery about the pendulum. He found that the period (time it takes for the pendulum to swing back and forth) does not depend on the arc of the swing but the length of the string.


At the University of Pisa, Galileo had learnt about Aristotelian physics, he questioned their theory on the rate of which objects fall.

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Mechanical Devices

Galileo took much interest in mechanical devices. He proposed ideas of machines transforming energy rather than creating energy. In 1594 he created a pump that raised water using only a single horse.


During 1604 he became more fascinated about astronomy and started lectures on a star that had appeared that year. In 1609, during Galileo remodelled the current telescopes at the time, which only had a magnification of 3x. His versions of the telescope had a magnifications of 20x – 30x and allowed him to view the moon, satellites of Jupiter, the milk way, sunspots and the phases of Venus. Galileo’s efforts and findings in astronomy had made him famous and was appointed as court mathematician of Florence.  

As Galileo discovered more and more about the solar system, he learnt that the planets including earth revolved around the sun. He proved that the Copernican theory was correct. This caused a great upset in the Catholic Church, which controlled society. The Catholic Church had a strong belief in the Aristotelian Universe.

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Galileo’s concept of inertia states:

“An object in a state of motion possesses an ‘inertia’ that causes it to remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it”

This concept will become Newton’s first law of motion.

Thus, Aristotle held that objects at rest remained at rest unless a force acted on them, but that objects in motion did not remain in motion unless a force acted constantly on them. Galileo, by virtue of a series of experiments (many with objects sliding down inclined planes), realized that the analysis of Aristotle was incorrect because it failed to account properly for a hidden force: the frictional force between the surface and the object.








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