Galileo

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Galileo was one of the smartest men ever to live. The desire that pushed Galileo on despite all obstacles was unconquerable. No one and no thing could ever have stood in his way except for one thing, his own arrogance. Galileo undoubtedly was a brilliant man and therefore was capable of understanding and furthering human knowledge. The only thing that would persistently make things difficult for him and get in his way was his arrogance and self-confidence. Galileo thought there was nothing he could not do, understand, and then prove true. His brilliance enabled him to accomplish so much but his arrogance brought him many enemies that he would have until the end of his life.

Galileo was born in Pisa, Italy, February 15, 1564. His father was Vincenzo Galileo who played an important role in the musical revolution from medieval polyphony to harmonic modulation. At the age of twelve Galileo was enrolled in the monastery school at Vallombrosa where monks taught him. Galileo's father determined that his son should be a doctor, pulled him out of the school and sent him to the University of Pisa in 1581 where he would study medicine and the philosophy of Aristotle for the next four years.

In 1585 after convincing his father Galileo left the school without a degree realizing he never was interested in medicine and that he had a talent for mathematics. Galileo began being tutored privately and during this time began to question Aristotelian philosophy and scientific thought. At the same time he gained his first public notice with his new hydrostatic balance, an instrument used to find the specific gravity of objects by weighing them in water. This new attention and with the help of friend Guidobaldo, Galileo was appointed professor of mathematics at Pisa in 1589.

This position required him to teach courses in astronomy on the basis of the Greek astronomer Ptolemy's theory that the sun and all planets revolve around the earth. Preparing to teach these courses gave Galileo a deeper understanding of astronomical theory. This is also where he was reported to have shown his students the error of Aristotle's belief, that the speed of a falling object is proportional to weight, by dropping two objects of different weight simultaneously from the leaning tower. After the year was over his contract was not renewed because he contradicted Aristotelian professors.

In 1610, Galileo was appointed to the chair of mathematics at the University of Padua. At the new university Galileo invented a calculating compass for the practical solution of mathematical problems, turned from the speculative physics to careful measurements, discovered the law of falling bodies and of the parabolic path of projectiles, studied the motion of pendulums, and investigated mechanics and the strength of materials. During this time Galileo became convinced of the truth of the theory proposed by the Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus that all planets including earth revolved around the sun. Galileo builds his first telescope and with it he saw clear evidence that Ptolemy's claims about the heavens were false.

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