The marvellous scientific bestowals of Galileo

The marvellous scientific bestowals of Galileo
Highlights

Shattering many unsubstantiated beliefs into pieces, the 16th and 17th centuries have unparalleled the scientific way of learning, which was associated with many inventions and discoveries that led to the Scientific Revolution

Shattering many unsubstantiated beliefs into pieces, the 16th and 17th centuries have unparalleled the scientific way of learning, which was associated with many inventions and discoveries that led to the Scientific Revolution.

It is accepted all over the world that the Scientific Revolution had begun with the Copernican Revolution and concluded with the grand synthesis of Isaac Newton's Principia. No doubt that the world saw many pioneers during this period — of which — Galileo Galilei was one of the forerunners.

Galileo was born on February 15, 1564, at Pisa in Italy. He turned into a gifted lutenist. As a youngster, he took up the priesthood. Even though Galileo solemnly considered the priesthood, he had obliged his father's request and got enrolled for a medical degree in 1580 at the University of Pisa.

By chance, in 1581, Galileo noticed a swinging chandelier. He experienced that the air fluxes shifted about to swing in larger and smaller arcs, in accordance with the swinging chandelier. This resulted in him, comparing the oscillations of a chandelier with the heartbeats.

Galileo observed that the chandelier took the same time to swing hither and thither, irrespective of the distance it was swinging. This observation ignited him to work on pendulums. Nearly a century later, his experiments, further undertaken by Christiaan Huygens, yielded the results to create an accurate clock that used the tautochrone nature of oscillations of a pendulum.

Accidentally, Galileo once happened to attend a lecture on geometry. This made him convince his disinclined father to allow him to study mathematics and natural philosophy in preference to medicine.

During this period only, he created a thermoscope — a forerunner of the thermometer. Of course, using the expansion and contraction of air in a bulb to move water in an attached tube, Galileo fabricated a thermometer, somewhere around1593.

Additionally, Galileo studied disegno, a subject related to fine arts. In 1588, Galileo achieved the position of an instructor in the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence. Far along, he assumed various positions in numerous universities of that time.

Of many original scientific contributions of Galileo, his contributions to the science of motion through an innovative combination of experiment and mathematics are commendable. Galileo was ever ready to change his views in accordance with his observations.

Thus, he was one of the first modern thinkers to evidently state that the laws of nature are mathematical. His mathematical analyses manifested a step ahead towards the ultimate separation of science from both philosophy and religion — this was rather a major development in human thought.

Another significant contribution made by Galileo was — he exhibited a contemporary appreciation for the appropriate link between mathematics and both theoretical and experimental physics. In order to perform his experiments, standards of length and time were established by Galileo. This was intended to compare measurements made on different days and in different laboratories in a reproducible manner — reliability could thus be achieved in this way.

It is often believed that Galileo invented the telescope. However, it is not true. The most primitive works on telescope were evidently undertaken by German-Dutch lens maker Hans Lippershey. Though the original inventor is unknown, it is a historical fact that Hans Lippershey applied for the first patent.

Nonetheless, Galileo was one of the pioneers to use the telescope for his astronomical observations. In 1609, Galileo made a telescope with approximately three times magnification. His further experiments resulted in the fabrication of improved versions of telescopes with about thirty times magnification. The observer, using a Galilean telescope, could see magnified and straight images on the Earth.

Apart from physics, Galileo made a number of contributions to various fields of engineering. He invented a geometric and the military compass — a very appropriate and useful device for gunners and surveyors.

He also discovered something new and very significant concept — satellites of a satellite. This is about the celestial bodies orbiting a body orbiting another. According to this concept, the Earth is a satellite of the Sun; and the Moon is the Satellite of the Earth. In other words, here, the Moon is the satellite of a satellite.

Some other important contributions of Galileo to observational astronomy include the phases of Venus, the four largest satellites of Jupiter, the observation of Saturn and the analysis of sunspots — the interpretations made through a telescopic observation.

Despite the fact that Galileo made many scientific contributions, he had also been controversial at that time over heliocentrism. By 1615, it was proclaimed that Galileo and his followers were endeavouring to reinterpret the Bible.

Galileo, the pioneer who is aptly known as the father of observational astronomy, the father of modern physics, the father of the scientific method, and the father of modern science, categorically deserves a commemoration on his birth anniversary for all his marvellous scientific bestowals.

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