Thursday, September 10, 2015

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Josh Groban in his 2010 Illumination album has composed an imaginary love song that Galileo probably would written if he met someone meant to be his other half  “someone like you”. Who is this Galileo? None other than the famous Italian Astronomer and Philosopher, Galileo Galilei, born in the year that we saw the birth of Shakespeare, 1564 died in 1642 at the age of 77 in prison. First, let's enjoy a beautiful song by Josh Groban in below video:-

Galileo was put in prison by a Roman Inquisitorial commission who charged him on "vehemently suspect of heresy”. The Roman Catholic Church accused his teaching in contrary to the teaching of the Holy Scripture. Pope Paul V instructed Cardinal Bellarmine to deliver the inquisitorial commission finding to Galileo, and to order him to abandon opinion that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing (heliocentrism was physically true). It was on 26 February 1616, Galileo was called to Bellarmine's residence and ordered the judgement against him.

Galileo's championing of heliocentrism and Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system. He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could only be supported as a possibility, not as an established fact. Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until that point. He was put on trial by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It was while Galileo was under house arrest that he wrote one of his finest works, “Two New Sciences”. Here he summarized the work he had done some forty years earlier, on the two sciences now called kinematics and strength of materials.

A Roman Inquisitorial commission declared heliocentrism to be "foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture." The Inquisition found that the idea of the Earth's movement "receives the same judgement in philosophy and... in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith."

Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy", namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to "abjure, curse and detest" those opinions.

He was sentenced to formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Inquisition. On the following day this was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life. His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.

Galileo was not only an astronomer and a philosopher but also a physicist, engineer and mathematician who played a major role in the scientific revolution during the Renaissance time. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for heliocentrism. Galileo has been called as the father of modern observational astronomy, the "father of modern physics" and the "father of modern science".

His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honour), and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments.

Galileo was never married. However, he did have a brief relationship with Marina Gamba, a woman he met on one of his many trips to Venice. Marina lived in Galileo's house in Padua where she bore him three children. His two daughters, Virginia and Livia, were both put in convents where they became, respectively, Sister Maria Celeste and Sister Arcangela. In 1610, Galileo moved from Padua to Florence where he took a position at the Court of the Medici family. He left his son, Vincenzio, with Marina Gamba in Padua. In 1613, Marina married Giovanni Bartoluzzi, and Vincenzio joined his father in Florence. Galileo's beloved elder daughter, Virginia (Sister Maria Celeste), was particularly devoted to her father. She is buried with him in his tomb in the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence.

Information obtained from by Walter Bryant (public domain biography).

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