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Profile of Galileo Galilei
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Among Galileo's inventions are a
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Hi, I'm Christina Hartman for About.com and today we're profiling the 16th century astronomer Galileo Galilei.Galileo Galilei was born February 15, 1564 in Pisa, Italy. He was the oldest of seven children, and when it came time for him to enter school his father wanted him to enroll to study medicine.
Galileo wanted to be a monk, but he eventually began medical studies at the University of Pisa in 1581.
He didn't find any of his studies interesting, except for mathematics. He eventually left the university to tutor in Mathematics.From an early age, Galileo was exploring the mathematics and physics of the world around him. When he was 20 years old, he used his heartbeat to measure the duration of a swinging lamp. The law of the pendulum, as it came to be known, would be used to regulate clocks.
Galileo tested Aristotle's observations of gravity by dropping weights off the top of the nearby Tower of Pisa. The experiment showed that objects of different sizes fell at the same speed.
Galileo also was an inventor. His inventions include a basic thermometer, a compass used to aim cannonballs and survey land, and a basic telescope.
He improved on his telescope until he pointed it at the moon and discovered a rough, cratered surface. This flew in the face of modern understanding, and was only the first controversy Galileo would kick off.He observed the moons orbiting Jupiter, which made him start thinking — what if the earth orbited the sun, and not the other way around? This would match the heliocentric theories Copernicus had proposed earlier in the century.
He published his findings in 1610, in a pamphlet called The Starry Messenger, which was met with great public interest.
But the publication also attracted the attention of the Church in Rome. Galileo's findings contradicted explanations for the natural world laid out in the Bible, and some in the Church accused Galileo of heresy. After an investigation by the Inquisition, Galileo was cleared of all charges, though he was cautioned to never teach heliocentric theory again.Despite the warning, in 1632 Galileo published a Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, in which he presented arguments for and against heliocentric theory as a conversation between characters. One character supported Galileo's arguments, and another, called Simplicio, held the earth-centric view of the Church at the time.
The Church banned the book and brought Galileo before the Inquisition in Rome once again. Galileo was threatened with torture, and publicly recanted his assertions. Legend has it, however, that Galileo then whispered "And yet, it moves."
A 68-year-old Galileo was sentenced to house arrest, which he served in his home outside Florence until he died in 1642.
The Church eventually lifted the ban on Galileo's book in 1822. And in 1992, the Vatican formally cleared Galileo's name of any wrongdoing for more information be sure to check out About.com
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