Galileo Galilei, 1564-1642

[Mentioned in Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 99, 269; The People's Idea of God, p. 13]

Galileo, the greatest experimental scientist of his time, was sent to the University of Pisa to study medicine. Here his interest in philosophy and mathematics was aroused. In the cathedral, Galileo observed that the oscillations of a bronze lamp, when something caused it to swing, were all performed in the same time, although the number of oscillations grew fewer. This observation led to his constructing an instrument which marked the marked the rate and variations of the human pulse. This invention was later applied to clocks.

Because his father was unable to pay for the complete course, Galileo returned to Florence, where his lectures and writing quickly attracted attention. He was appointed a professor of mathematics at the university he had left. His demonstration from the top of the leaning tower of Pisa that bodies of different weights fall with the same velocity aroused antagonism, for it was contrary to Aristotle's teachings. This antagonism ultimated in Galileo's leaving Pisa.

He settled in Florence finally, after spending eighteen happy years at Padua, teaching and making astronomical observations. With a telescope which he constructed, he discovered the stellar character of the Milky Way, Jupiter's satellites, the ring of Saturn, the phases of Venus, and the sunspots.

Signs of the Times
January 10, 1959

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