He was born on February 15, 1564 in the city of Pisa, Italy, the same century that the Polish monk Copernicus (1473-1543) died and the Danish eccentric Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) and the German Johannes Kepler (1571) were born. -1628), who by having devised the three most important laws of planetary motion became known as the "lawgiver of the heavens."
But unlike these, who always had strong ties to the mystique of the Middle Ages, Galileo dared to break with the philosophy of the Greek Aristotle (384-322 BC), so in vogue among European intellectuals 400 years ago, when most people worked in agriculture or were artisans, and very few children went to school.
Contrary to his father's wishes, Galileo did not become a merchant, much less religious. He enrolled at age 17 at the University of Pisa, where he turned out to be a brilliant medical student. This interest, however, would collapse when Galileo discovered the large chandelier hanging from the ceiling of Pisa's cathedral. Using the beats of his own heart to measure time, he observed that the movement of the candelabrum was always completed at the same time, no matter the amplitude of the oscillation.
At the same time, a geometry class at the university made his interest shift to physics. Galileo leaves university in 1585 without becoming a doctor and begins to study mathematics. From his meditations on suspended and swinging lamps emerged the laws of the pendulum - and from these, later, the invention of the grandfather clock, by the Dutch Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695).
Occupying the chair of mathematics in the “Studio de Padua”, Galileo conducted several experiments on the problem of falling bodies. To demonstrate that Aristotle was wrong when he stated that "the speed of a falling body is a direct reason for its weight," he conducted experiments with iron balls rolling on a sloping plane.
Galileo perfected the telescope invented by the Dutchman Hans Lippershey (1570-1619) and in 1610 observed mountains and craters on the moon, spots on the sun and four satellites around Jupiter. His discoveries took away the importance of man as the center of the universe, tarnishing the perfection of the heavens.
By openly criticizing Ptolemy's Aristotelian physics and geocentric system (AD 127-145), the Italian sage eventually received his first formal warning from the Inquisition, which condemned the theories of Earth's movement and prohibited the teaching of Copernicus's heliocentric system. When in 1632 Galileo published his controversial Dialogue on the two largest systems in the world, he was soon ordered to perform in Rome.
After three months of exhausting interrogation sessions, Galileo was charged by the Holy Office and, on June 22, 1633, forced to deny his certainty that the Earth was not motionless in space, using the phrase “abject, cursed and detesting. the aforementioned errors and heresies. ” Galileo had his work banned and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Also it is considered that the treatment given to Galileo was remarkably mild considering the standards of the Inquisition. Galileo was already old and did not get arrested a single day nor was tortured. His process is not comparable to that of another Italian, the young Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), the first philosopher to claim that there should be life elsewhere in the universe - brutally tortured and burned alive in a public square.
Galileo's condemnation was an attempt to save geocentricity, the key to scholasticism, the grand synthesis between Aristotle's philosophy (4th century BC) and the Christian doctrine that dominated European thought during the Lower Middle Ages (11th to 14th centuries). Its lawsuit has remained on file for long 350 years. Only in 1983 did Pope John Paul II admit the errors of the Church and acquit him.
Galileo passed away at the age of 78 on January 6, 1642. Its importance goes far beyond the historical confrontation with the Inquisition. Around him many legends and misconceptions were created.
The Pope's personal friend who condemned him, his worst enemy, in fact, was his own temperament. Galileo was often cheerful and communicative. Never married, but had four children. But when discussing his ideas he was sarcastic, cynical, and proud. He wore too much just attacking alleged rivals.
Today, many admire him for things he has never done, such as inventing the telescope, thermometer, or grandfather clock. He also never threw weights from the top of the Pisa tower to demonstrate that bodies of different masses fall at the same speed.
His greatest contribution to science lies in laying the foundations of modern scientific thought, the experimental method, resurrected from the times of old Archimedes. This is why Galileo Galilei is considered the father of physics.