Maria: Hello Galileo Galilei, thank you so much for taking your time out today to answer a few questions about your life and your accomplishments for our article.
Galileo: Thank you for having me.
Maria: Well, let us start with some background information, about your family and your life. When were you born?
Galileo: I was born on February 15, 1564 to Vincenzo Galilei and Giulia degli Ammannati, in Pisa, a town in Northern Italy.
Maria: Where did you receive your education?
Galileo: I received my education at a monastery, Santa Maria di Vallombrosa, near Florence. My father wanted me to study medicine, because he believed I would become wealthy, and tried to steer me away from a career in mathematics. He wanted the best for me, and when I told him I wanted to become a monk, he was completely shocked.
Maria: What did you do after your years of study in Santa Maria di Vallombrosa?
Galileo: In 1581, at the age of 17, I entered the University of Pisa to study medicine, as my father wished. There, I developed an interest in mathematics and switched my major from medicine to mathematics.
Maria: I heard that you began to study the pendulum. Can you explain why you were interested?
Galileo: Probably around the age of 20, I noticed a chandelier swinging overhead while I was in a cathedral. I was curious to find out how long it took the chandelier to swing back and forth, so I used my pulse to time large and small swings. I was shocked to find out that the period of each swing was the same. I concluded that the relationship between the oscillation time and the length of the pendulum's swing, was O(oscillation time) is proportional to Pē(length of the pendulum). The weight of the pendulum does not make a difference in the time it takes for each swing.
Maria: Wow, very interesting. Did you ever question any other scientist beliefs?
Galileo: Actually I did; I questioned a Greek scientist, which many people have heard of before, Aristotle. In 1589, I discovered the law of falling bodies, which states that all objects fall to earth at the same speed, no matter what their size or weight is. I climbed the Tower of Pisa, which is 54 meters tall. I dumped of a variety of balls with different sizes and weights. They all landed at the base of the building at the same time. I wrote about my discoveries in a book called DeMotu, which means On Motion.
Maria: What did Aristotle and the Greeks believe about falling objects?
Galileo: They believed that the heavier an object was, the faster it would fall. Gravity was believed to pull more strongly on heavier objects. After two decades of observing the law of falling bodies, I came to the conclusion that all bodies, regardless of shape, weight, or specific gravity, are regularly accelarated in exactly the same way, and that the distance fallen is proportional to the square of the elapsed time.
Maria: In 1609 you created the telescope. What did you observe with that invention?
Galileo: I observed that the surface of the moon was uneven rather than smooth; it had craters, mountains, and valleys. In addition, I noticed spots on the sun and rings around Saturn. Four moons surrounded Jupiter- Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Most importantly, I supported the Copernican System, which states that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun.
Maria: Now, I heard that you had some troubles with the Church and your beliefs.
Galileo: Yes, many mathematicians of the Church believed that I was right about the Copernican System, but many members of the Catholic Church believed that I was wrong. Before this system, it was believed that the universe was geocentric, meaning that the Sun revolved around the Earth. One of my friends told me that a powerful member of the nobility said that she could not see how my interpretation could be true, because they would contradict with the Bible. She quoted a passage in Joshua where God caused the Sun to stand still and lengthen the day. Interpreters of the Bible believed that this meant the Sun went around the Earth. I am a very religious man, and I believe the Bible can never be wrong, but I think that those who translate the Bible can make mistakes. In 1616, the Church court investigated charges of heresy, and accused me. I was found innocent of all charges, but I was cautioned not to teach the Copernican system.
Maria: What a very serious matter. Many who believed in the Copernican system were killed. Later on, you published a book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which was about the Copernican System. Now the church was mad about that too.
Galileo: Yes, Pope Urban VIII ordered the book banned, and ordered me to appear before the Inquisition in Rome for the crime of teaching the Copernican theory after being ordered not to do so in 1633. I was threatened with torture, so I confessed that I had been wrong to have said that the Earth moves around the Sun. I was found guilty of heresy, and luckily, I am allowed to live under house arrest.
Maria: Well, I think that is all the
questions I have for today. Thank you for your cooperation, and
time, I look forward to seeing you again.
Benton, William. Galileo. Britannica
Junior Encyclopaedia. Chicago: 1963.
-The information in this encyclopaedia was satisfactory; it was very old. So much of the information could have been modernized, but for the most part, the information was accurate. This I would not highly recommend compared to the other sources of information.
Burr, Elizabeth and Albert Van Helden.
The Galileo Project. 1995. http://es.rice.edu/ES/humsoc/Galileo/
-This site was very good; it gave a lot of information not just on his achievements but on his life as well. I would recommend this site.
Crandall, Kelly and Mary Scapino.
Biographies of Mathematicians- Galileo Galilei. 1999.
-This site is where I got my mathematics from; it gave many formulas that Galileo used. This site was one of the best sites that I had from the internet, and I would recommend it to anyone.
McLeish, Kenneth, and Valerie McLeish. Famous
People. U.S.A.: Troll Associates, Inc., 1991.
-This book was very good, but it did not go into great detail of his contributions. There was only a short section about him; the book was about many famous people. I would recommend it to others if they want a brief description of his accomplishments.
Timeline of Galileo's Life.
Subscriber Benefits. http://www.berkeleyrep.org/html/body_timeline.html
-This site was a timeline of Galileo's life. It gave many facts, and much information, starting with when he was young. The site was also good.