Galileo: Uniformity of Nature and Experimental Physics

Topics: Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Pisa Pages: 6 (2387 words) Published: May 1, 2006
Galileo: Uniformity of Nature and Experimental Physics

The Renaissance became one of the factors for the Scientific Revolution, bringing on the renewal of ancient times which led to the discovery of "ancient scientific texts (1)." This time period of the Renaissance also known as "the century of genius (1)" brought on a new view of nature bringing about ideas of great minds such as that of Galileo. He could be described as a Renaissance man, gifted in many areas as a talented musician, an artist, a cultivated humanist, an astronomer, and a physicist (1). A substantial part of Galileo's work was related to mechanics, and he was the first to apply mathematics to its analysis; earning the status as the founder of modern mechanics and experimental physics (2). He also introduced the use of pendulums instead of clocks and proposed the law of uniform acceleration between falling objects. Finally, he developed the telescope with which he discovered the craters of the moon, sunspots, phases of Venus, and the satellites of Jupiter. Galileo, like many other Renaissance Men, contributed many ideas and concepts to how we view and study the world today (2). But he differs in a way that despite conflictions with the churches' teachings he remained with his ideas. I chose him not only because of his great mind and thoughts, but also for his willingness to stand by what he believed in even if it meant going against the church. He not only stood by his theories, such as those of uniform acceleration, but he also showed justification for his thoughts. Like Copernicus and Kepler, "he believed that mathematics expressed the harmony and beauty of God's creation (1)." He didn't oppose the concept that God created the universe, but argued that God gave mankind senses and intellects to acquire knowledge. Through his theories and reasoning his intelligence was evident. Galileo was appreciative of the Platonic tradition, which explored the mathematical theory of the universe. He also found other inspiration from the likes of Archimedes, the Hellenistic mathematician and engineer who explored a geometric understanding of space and motion (1). He believed that reality was nature itself. Not much is said about his characteristics or values, but through facts, he could be viewed as determined and persistent. He was thought of as a sincere Christian, so his intentions were never to go against the churches' teachings, but to only show the explanation behind the motions of the universe. Galileo Galilei was born at Pisa, a city in western Italy (also known for its great Leaning Tower of Pisa), on February 15, 1564. In 1574, Galileo and his family moved to Florence. He was the first out of six children of a musician, by the name of Vincenzo Galilei, and his wife, Giulia degli Ammannati. In Pisa, he received his early education at the monastery of Vallombrosa located near Florence, Italy. In 1581 he began attending the University of Pisa to originally to study medicine. During his first year at the university, while in the Pisa cathedral, Galileo noticed a swinging lamp where his first true passion for the physical world and science became evident (3). Through this observation, he found that the lamp always required the same amount of time to complete a rotation, no matter how large the range of the swing. Following this observation, later in life he verified his findings and introduced the principle of the pendulum, and how it may be applied to the regulation of clocks. Prior to his experience with the swinging lamp, Galileo had no mathematical knowledge. His interest in mathematics and science came about on accident when he over heard a lesson concerning geometry (3). Due to insufficient funds his education was cut short, where he then returned to his family in Florence. Once there, he worked lecturing at the Florence academy, and in 1586 wrote his first published essay describing the hydrostatic balance. This new invention made...
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