Would you like to learn some interesting facts about Galileo Galilei? He was a brilliant scientist who did revolutionary discoveries for his time. This caused a lot of controversies, especially within the Church. Before you start learning about the interesting things that happened, let’s start with his background.
Who was Galileo Galilei?
Galileo Galilei was a scientist who did revolutionary discoveries in the field of astronomy and physics. He was against the theories postulated by Aristotle and supported the hypothesis of Copernicus. He was able to prove that Copernicus was right, but the church and his colleagues didn’t like that. After several conflicts, Galilei was put under house arrest for being “suspect of heresy”.
Galilei was the son of a famous musician and had five siblings, but two of them died when they were little. Once he discovered his passion for math, his career was unstoppable. He invented a wide range of artifacts and perfected other ones. He always defended heliocentrism (idea that sun is the center of the universe) and tried to prove it throughout his lifetime, making it the cause of most of his problems in the science field.
Interesting Facts about Galileo Galilei
1. The father of Galileo Galilei was a very important musician.
Galileo Galilei was the son of Vincenzo Galilei. Vincenzo was an important composer during the final years of Renaissance. He did significant contributions to the transition to the Baroque era.
Galileo’s father influenced him when he was young. He taught Galileo that he had to be skeptical and question authority. He also intervened when Galileo was going to choose his career. Galileo wanted to be a priest when he was young, but his father opposed this decision. To avoid it, he sent Galileo to the University of Pisa. His intention was that Galileo got a degree in medicine, but at university, Galileo discovered his passion for math.
2. The similarity between his first name and his last name is not a coincidence.
In those times, people in the Italian region of Tuscany used to name the first son of their families after their last names. This explains the similarity between his first name and his last name, as he was de eldest son.
According to another theory, he might be named after Galileo Bonaiuti. This man was a famous ancestor of Galileo Galilei, and his family decided to switch from the last name “Bonaiuti” to “Galilei” to honor him.
3. He never got married but had three children.
Galileo had an 11-year relationship with a woman called Marina Gamba. They never got married but had three children: two girls and a boy. Their daughters were sent to a convent because Galileo’s father thought they would never be able to get married for being illegitimate. To avoid future problems, he legally recognized the boy as his son and officially made him his legal heir.
4. He wasn’t the inventor of the telescope but made it even better.
Galileo heard that a man called Hans Lippershey had invented a device with which people could observe objects that were far. Galileo used the descriptions of the first telescope and invented his own artifact. He made over 60 telescopes, and the best ones had about 30x magnification without distorting the images.
5. He invented other artifacts.
Besides perfecting the telescope, Galileo invented other artifacts. He made a “thermoscope”, which is used to know the variations in temperature. He also invented the “sector”, which was a military compass, the pendulum clock, and a water pump.
6. He made important astronomical discoveries.
Thanks to the observations he did with his telescopes, Galileo was able to observe and explain different astronomical phenomena. He observed the moons that orbited Jupiter and described the phases of Venus and the Moon. He also observed the Milky Way, Neptune and explained sunspots.
All of these observations proved that Copernicus was right when he talked about heliocentrism, which claims that planets revolve around the Sun and not around the Earth. He also proved that Aristotle was wrong when he said that all celestial bodies from the moon and beyond were perfect because Galileo observed moon craters.
7. Although most of his theories were true for the most part, what he said about tides was wrong.
To explain the phenomena of tides, Galileo said that they originated because of the rotation of the Earth. According to him, there was a high tide every 12 hours because the acceleration of the Earth during its rotation on its axis caused that effect on the surface.
If this was true, there would only be one high tide a day, but other scientists observed that in Venice there were two high tides daily.
8. Galileo died during a home arrest.
The publication of Galileo’s works was highly controversial as they opposed what scientists and the Church believed in those times. After years of conflicts, he was finally put under arrest for the rest of his life when was found “vehement suspect of heresy”.
Although he was under arrest, he welcomed a good number of guests in his house, and he continued working. He died in 1642.
I hope that you enjoyed learning about Galileo Galilei facts. For more information, visit historical people pages.