Etching of Astronomer, Galileo Galilei is seen in an undated photo.
© AP Photos
On February 15th in the year 1564 -
, Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy. Galileo Galilei was a mathematician and physicist who gave scientific thought new impetus. Until Galileo came along, scientists used to asked why
something is the way it is. Galileo changed this mode of enquiry – he wanted to know above all how
something worked. That is why he tried to investigate things by means of scientific experiments. He wanted to find out the laws of nature. This was something completely new, something revolutionary. And he did another thing as well: he published the results of his research in his mother tongue, so that even people who did not speak Latin could understand them. In Galileo’s day, scholars used to speak Latin among themselves, and many of them were quite willing to accept the fact that ordinary people did not understand them.
Galileo Galilei went to university at the young age of 17. By the time he was in his mid-
twenties, he was already a professor of mathematics. Then he began questioning a lot of things that had previously been considered incontrovertibly true. This didn’t go down well with a lot of his fellow professors. From Pisa, he went to the university in Padua. This university was very famous, and there were a lot of highly distinguished scientists and academics working there. Galileo not only had a large number of interested students, but also made many important discoveries himself. With a telescope he had made himself, he watched the skies and proved that it is not the sun that revolves around the earth, but the earth that circles the sun. The Church did not want to accept this discovery, however, and, at a trial, it forced Galileo to recant his theory. Legend has it that, after the trial, he muttered, “And yet it (the earth) moves.”
Galileo was placed under house arrest for an indefinite period in his villa near Florence. Here, he wrote more pioneering works on physics. Galileo Galilei died 366 years ago today, in 1642.