Galileo Galilei

On this date in 1564, Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy. Galileo was appointed professor of mathematics at the University of Padua, where he lectured for 18 years. Galileo pioneered the experimental scientific method, building a thermoscope, constructing a geometrical and military compass, and building an improved telescope. His observations of the satellites of Jupiter, sunspots, mountains and valleys on the moon made him a celebrity, but his Copernican views were investigated and condemned by the Church. Diplomatically seeking Church permission, he published "The Assayer," describing his scientific method, which was tactfully dedicated to the pope (1623). It took Galileo nearly two years to persuade the church to permit him to publish "Dialogue on the two Chief Systems of the World - Ptolemaic and Copernican" (1632), in which he wrote about impetus, momentum and gravity. The Holy Office banned the book, summoning the frail scientist to Rome for trial. Galileo was ordered to abjure his theory and was condemned to house arrest for the rest of his life. Three hundred and fifty years after his death, the Catholic Church "forgave" Galileo. D. 1642.

“I have been . . . suspected of heresy, that is, of having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the universe and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the same, and that it does move . . . I abjure with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, I curse and detest the said errors and heresies, and generally all and every error and sect contrary to the Holy Catholic church.”

—Galileo Galilei's Recantation, June 22, 1633

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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