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The life of galileo galilei and the science of mechanics

Brief Biography Galileo was born on February 15, 1564 in Pisa. By the time he died on January 8, 1642 but see problems with the date, Machamer 1998, pp. Galileo and his family moved to Florence in 1572. He started to study for the priesthood, but left and enrolled for a medical degree at the University of Pisa.

He never completed this degree, but instead studied mathematics notably with Ostilio Ricci, the mathematician of the Tuscan court. Later he visited the mathematician Christopher Clavius in Rome and started a correspondence with Guildobaldo del Monte.

He applied and was turned down for a position in Bologna, but a few years later in 1589, with the help of Clavius and del Monte, he was appointed to the chair of mathematics in Pisa. In 1592 he was appointed, at a much higher salary, to the position of mathematician at the University of Padua. While in Padua he met Marina Gamba, and in 1600 their daughter Virginia was born.

In 1601 they had another daughter Livia, and the life of galileo galilei and the science of mechanics 1606 a son Vincenzo. It was during his Paduan period that Galileo worked out much of his mechanics and began his work with the telescope. Galileo had lobbied hard for this position at the Medici court and even named the moons of Jupiter, which he discovered, after the Medici. There were many reasons hewanted move, but he says he did not like the wine in the Venice area and he had to teach too many students.

In 1611 he became a member of what is perhaps the first scientific society, the Academia dei Lincei. In this latter work he first expressed his position in favor of Copernicus.

Early life and career

Marina Gamba, their mother, had been left behind in Padua when Galileo moved to Florence. In 1616 he transformed this into the Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina.

Galileo then was called to an audience with Cardinal Robert Bellarmine and advised not to teach or defend Copernican theory. In 1623 Galileo published The Assayer dealing with the comets and arguing they were sublunary phenomena.

In this book, he made some of his most famous methodological pronouncements including the claim the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. It was published with an imprimatur from Florence and not Rome in 1632. Shortly afterwards the Inquisition banned its sale, and Galileo was ordered to Rome for trial.

Experiments in Motion

In 1633 he was condemned. There is more about these events and their implications in the final section of this article, Galileo and the Church. In 1634, while Galileo was under house arrest, his daughter, Maria Celeste died cf. This book was smuggled out of Italy and published in Holland. Galileo died early in 1642. Due to his conviction, he was buried obscurely until 1737.

Galileo discovered many things: This is no small set of accomplishments for one 17th-century Italian, who was the son of a court musician and who left the University of Pisa without a degree.

Galileo Galilei

One of the good things about dealing with such momentous times and people is that they are full of interpretive fecundity. Galileo and his work provide one such occasion. Since his death in 1642, Galileo has been the subject of manifold interpretations and much controversy.

Philosophically, Galileo has been used to exemplify many different themes, usually as a side bar to what the particular writer wished to make the hallmark of the scientific revolution or the nature of good science. Whatever was good about the new science or science in general, it was Galileo who started it. More philosophically, many would ask how his mathematics relates to his natural philosophy?

How did he produce a telescope and use his telescopic observations to provide evidence in favor of Copernicanism Reeves 2008? Or did he have no method and just fly like an eagle in the way that geniuses do Feyerabend 1975? Behind each of these claims there was some attempt to place Galileo in an intellectual context that brought out the background to his achievements. Yet most everyone in this tradition seemed to think the three areas—physics, astronomy and methodology—were somewhat distinct and represented different Galilean endeavors.

More recent historical research has followed contemporary intellectual fashion and shifted foci bringing new dimensions to our understanding of Galileo by studying his rhetoric Moss 1993, Feldhay 1998, Spranzi 2004the power structures of his social milieu Biagioli 1993, 2006his personal quest for acknowledgment Shea and Artigas 2003 and more generally has emphasized the larger social and cultural history, specifically the court and papal culture, in which Galileo functioned Redondi 1983, Biagioli 1993, 2006, Heilbron 2010.

In an intellectualist recidivist mode, this entry will outline his investigations in physics and astronomy and exhibit, in a new way, how these all cohered in a unified inquiry.

In setting this path out I shall show why, at the end of his life, Galileo felt compelled in some sense of necessity to write the Discourses Concerning the Two New Sciences, which stands as a true completion of his overall project and is not just a reworking of his earlier research the life of galileo galilei and the science of mechanics he reverted to after his trial, when he was blind and under house arrest.

Particularly, we shall try to show why both of the two new sciences, especially the first, were so important a topic not much treated except recently by Biener 2004 and Raphael 2011. In passing, we shall touch on his methodology and his mathematics and here refer you to some of the recent work by Palmieri 2001, 2003.

At the end we shall have some words about Galileo, the Catholic Church and his trial. Galileo signals this goal clearly when he leaves Padua in 1611 to return to Florence and the court of the Medici and asks for the title Philosopher as well as Mathematician. This was not just a status-affirming request, but also a reflection of his large-scale goal. What Galileo accomplished by the end of his life in 1642 was a reasonably articulated replacement for the traditional set of analytical concepts connected with the Aristotelian tradition of natural philosophy.

Some scholars might wish to describe what Galileo achieved in psychological terms as an introduction of new mental models Palmieri 2003 or a new model of intelligibility Machamer 1998, Adams et al. In their place he left only one element, corporeal matter, and a different way of describing the properties and motions of matter in terms of the mathematics of the equilibria of proportional relations Palmieri 2001 that were typified the life of galileo galilei and the science of mechanics the Archimedian simple machines—the balance, the inclined plane, the lever, and, he includes, the pendulum Machamer 1998, Machamer and Hepburn 2004, Palmieri 2008.

In doing so Galileo changed the acceptable way of talking about matter and its motion, and so ushered in the mechanical tradition that characterizes so much of modern science, even today. But this would take more explaining Dijksterhuis 1950, Machamer et al. Despite working on problems of the nature of matter from 1590 onwards, he could not have written his final work much earlier than 1638, certainly not before The Starry Messenger of 1610, and actually not before the Dialogues on the Two Chief World Systems of 1632.

Before 1632, he did not have the theory and evidence he needed to support his claim about unified, singular matter.

And this he did not do until the Dialogues.

Galileo Galilei's Invention & Contributions

Galileo began his critique of Aristotle in the 1590 manuscript, De Motu. For Aristotle, sublunary or terrestrial matter is of four kinds [earth, air, water, and fire] and has two forms, heavy and light, which by nature are different principles of natural motion, down and up.

Galileo, using an Archimedian model of floating bodies and later the balance, argues that there is only one principle of motion, the heavy gravitasand that lightness or levitas is to be explained by the heavy bodies moving so as to displace or extrude other bits of matter in such a direction that explains why the other bits rise.

So on his view heaviness or gravity is the cause of all natural terrestrial motion. But this left him with a problem as to the nature of the heavy, the nature of gravitas?

In De Motu, he argued that the moving arms of a balance could be used as a model for treating all problems of motion. In this model heaviness is the proportionality of weight of one object on one arm of a balance to that of the weight of another body on the other arm of the balance. Galileo realized quickly these characterizations were insufficient, and so began to explore how heaviness was relative to the different specific gravities of bodies having the same volume. He was trying to figure out what is the concept of heaviness that is characteristic of all matter.

What he failed to work out, and this was probably the reason why he never published De Motu, was this positive characterization of heaviness.

  • He calls it the force of percussion, which deals with two bodies interacting;
  • In 1634, while Galileo was under house arrest, his daughter, Maria Celeste died cf;
  • The catholic church executing Bruno in 1600 acted as a strong threat to all dissidents and emerging scientists, and its Jesuit Order soon began pushing an acceptable greek-Atomist physics that was basically taken up as a self-perpetuating mainstream physics that Newton considered 'prejudice';
  • Galileo's main published works were his 1632 astronomy 'Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems' and his 1638 mechanics 'Discourses or Dialogues concerning Two New Sciences' both in ancient-Greek philosophy argument-dialogue style but the latter with some actual experimental proofs and with some sections more in a Euclid or Newton style;
  • Showing that the Moon was not smooth, as had been assumed, but was covered by mountains and craters.

There seemed to be no way to find standard measures of heaviness that would work across different substances. So at this point he did not have useful replacement categories. Still, he has no good way to measure or compare the life of galileo galilei and the science of mechanics gravities of bodies of different kinds and his notebooks during this early 17th-century period reflect his trying again and again to find a way to bring all matter under a single proportional measuring scale.

He tries to study acceleration along an inclined plane and to find a way to think of what changes acceleration brings. In this regard and during this period he attempts to examine the properties of percussive effect of bodies of different specific gravities, or how they have differential impacts.

Yet the details and categories of how to properly treat weight and movement elude him. Except for the inclined plane, time is not a property of the action of simple machines that one would normally attend to.

In discussing a balance, one does not normally think about how fast an arm of the balance descends nor how fast a body on the opposite arm is rising though Galileo in his Postils to Rocco ca. The converse is also true. In the Fifth Day of the Discouses, he presciently explores the concept of the force of percussion. This concept will become, after his death, one of the most fecund ways to think about matter.

In 1603—9, Galileo worked long at doing experiments on inclined planes and most importantly with pendula. The pendulum again exhibited to Galileo that acceleration and, therefore, time is a crucial variable. Moreover, isochrony—equal times for equal lengths of string, despite different weights—goes someway towards showing that time is a possible form for describing the equilibrium or ratio that needs to be made explicit in representing motion. It also shows that in at least one case time can displace weight as a crucial variable.

Work on the force of percussion and inclined planes also emphasized acceleration and time, and during this time ca. Galileo accepts, probably as early as the 1594 draft of Le Mecaniche, that natural motions might be accelerated. But that accelerated motion is properly measured against time is an idea enabled only later, chiefly through his failure to find any satisfactory dependence on place and specific gravity. Galileo must have observed that the speeds of bodies increase as they move downwards and, perhaps, do so naturally, particularly in the cases of the pendulum, the inclined plane, in free fall, and during projectile motion.

Also at this time he begins to think about percussive force, the force that a body acquires during its motion that shows upon impact. For many years he thinks that the correct science of these changes should describe how bodies change according to where they are on their paths. Specifically, it seems that height is crucial.

The law of free fall, expressed as time squared, was discovered by Galileo through the inclined plane experiments Drake 1999, v. But let us return to the main matter.

In 1609 Galileo begins his work with the telescope. Many interpreters have taken this to be an interlude irrelevant to his physics. The Starry Messenger, which describes his early telescopic discoveries, was published in 1610.

Perhaps the most unequivocal case of this is when he analogizes the mountains on the moon to mountains in Bohemia. Further, if there is only one kind of matter there can be only one kind of natural motion, one kind of motion that this matter has by nature. So it has to be that one law of motion will hold for earth, fire and the heavens. This is a far stronger claim than he had made back in 1590.

In addition, he described of his discovery of the four moons circling Jupiter, which he called politically the Medicean stars after the ruling family in Florence, his patrons. In the Copernican system, the earth having a moon revolve around it was unique and so seemingly problematic.