Galileo Galilei

Galileo was born in Pisa in the same year that Shakespeare was born and Michelangelo died. He studied medicine at the University of Pisa and then changed to mathematics. He developed an early interest in the mechanies of motion and was soon at odds with his contemporaries, who held to Aristotelian ideas on falling bodies. He left Pisa to teach at the University of Padua and became an advocate of the new Copernican theory of the solar system. He was one of the first to build a telescope, and he was the first to direct it to the nighttime sky and discover mountains on the moon and the moons of Jupeiter. Because he published his findings in Italian instead of in the Latin expected of so reputable a scholar, and because of the recent invention of the printing press, his ideas reached a wide readership. He soon ran afoul of the Church and was warned not to teach and not to hold to Copernican views. He restrained himself publicly for nearly 15 years and them defiantly published his observations and conclusions, which were counter to Church doctrine. The outcome was a trial in which he was found guilty, and he was forced to renounce his discoveries. By then an old man brohen in health and spirit, he was sentenced to perpetual house arrest. Nevertheless, he completed his studies on motion and his writings wre smuggled from Italy and published in Holland. Earlier he darmaged his eyes looking at the sun through a telescope, which led to blindness at the age of 74. He died 4 years later.


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