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Galileo Galilei Biography

Inventor of Telescope

Posted on October 2, 2011 by , with 6791 views

Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei was born on 15th February, 1564 in Pisa, Italy. Famous for his role in the fields of astronomy and physics, it was his father, Vincenzo, who encouraged his son to become a doctor. At 17 years of age, Galileo began his medicine studies at the University of Pisa, where so soon realised that he had a talent for mathematics. He convinced his father to let him leave the university to become a tutor in mathematics, before becoming a professor in the field.

It was in 1609, when Galileo embarked on his greatest invention - the telescope. He had heard about the invention of the spyglass, a piece of equipment which made distant objects seem closer. Galileo applied his mathematical and technical knowledge to produce a telescope, becoming the first person in history to look at the Moon thus making his first astronomical discovery. He identified that the moon was not smooth, but had an uneven plain much like Earth. It was also Galileo who realised four moons rotating around Jupiter. He used his telescope to monitor the phases of Venus and to further investigate sunspots on the Sun.

The fact that he could study the planets in much greater detail allowed him to back up Copernicus' theory - that all planets, including Earth, revolve around the Sun. Many were under the false impression that the Earth was indeed the centre of the universe.

The Catholic Church greatly opposed claims written by Galileo in papers defending Copernicus' theory of a heliocentric universe, and was called to Rome to be questioned by the Church Inquisition (the Church's legal body). In 1616, Galileo was called a heretic, defined as a person who openly opposes the teachings of the Church. This was a crime punishable by death sentence, but Galileo was soon cleared of all charges - though was warned to keep his beliefs and findings private and not openly available.

He continued his astronomy work and was becoming increasingly convinced of his belief in a heliocentric universe. He published a book in 1632 encompassing this theory, and confidently claimed that the theory of Copernicus held true. He was one again called for by the Church Inquisition, this time being found guilty of heresy. Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1633, he was allowed to serve his sentence at home under house arrest due to his age and poor medical condition. Galileo died on 8th January, 1642.

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