Galileo Galilei

Ian S. Glass

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:
Galileo Galilei

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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Galileo Galilei (c. 15 February 1564–8 January 1642) or Galileo, as he is usually referred to, is often regarded as the founder of the science of physics. His remarkable insight enabled him to focus on those properties of matter that could be modeled in a mathematical way. He overthrew the rigidified Aristotelian viewpoint of his contemporaries. The concepts of velocity and acceleration lay at the heart of his reforms. Through a series of experiments, he discovered the relationships between distance, velocity, and acceleration obeyed by falling bodies. Galileo was the first person to use the telescope seriously for astronomy and in doing so he discovered the moons of Jupiter, the first clear example of bodies in orbit around a center other than the earth. He became an outspoken advocate of the Copernican model of the universe. He discovered the phases of Venus. He also claimed to have discovered sunspots and he found that the sun rotates. His abrasive and outspoken criticism of Aristotelian philosophy and his obvious acceptance of the Copernican worldview, particularly in his Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems (see Florentine Period), led him into serious trouble with the Roman Catholic Church, which placed him under house arrest for the last eight years of his life. He was nevertheless able to continue writing and research.

Article.  6228 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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