& His Impact On Society Essay, Research Paper

Known to some people as the father of modern science, Galileo impacted this field in such a way that he was put on trial for going against the Catholic Church?s beliefs, because he supported the Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the sun. The Church?s belief was that the Earth was in the center of the universe and all heavenly bodies went around the Earth (geocentric theory or Ptolemaic theory, followers of Aristotle believed this too). His improvement on the telescope helped him see celestial objects in the night sky, which no one had ever done before (using a telescope to observe the heavens). He saw the imperfections of the universe, which offended the Church as well (the Church believed all celestial bodies were perfect). One of these observations were the dark spots on the sun (sunspots). During the trial, the Holy Office of the Inquisition (the Church) forced Galileo to say that he did not believe in Copernicus? theory. As he was being taken away to prison, it is said he had whispered, ?Eppur si muove,? ? But still it moves ? referring to the Earth.

Galileo was an active and outgoing man. He had several friends, from professors and noblemen to members of the Church, artists, and traders. He loved to paint and write poetry, and he read literature so he could write his own books in a distinct and amusing style.

Galileo Galilei is best known for enhancing the telescope, which was invented by a Dutchman named Hans Lippershey in 1608. He made the magnification of the then called spyglass about 32 to 33 times greater than the original. His telescope was the first one to be able to look at the night sky in detail.

With the telescope, he discovered many things in the heavens above, and was able to disprove some arguments made about them. For example, he found out there were mountains, craters, and valleys on the moon. Because the Earth?s moon was a heavenly object, many people did not believe his claims because they thought it had to be smooth.

Galileo also discovered four moons revolving around Jupiter in the night sky. This suggested the geocentric theory is false. Aristotelians disputed that the Earth was the center of all rotations and no other body was the middle of any rotations.

With the telescope, Galileo was also able to see that Venus had phases, like the moon and discovered Saturn?s strange appearances (because it has rings).

An inventor as well, Galileo created other useful materials, such as the thermoscope. It was used to measure temperature and air pressure. It was the first time temperature change could be accurately reported. Another item was the proportional compass, a mathematical instrument used to calculate numbers, square roots, and finding volumes and densities of objects. He also designed the hydrostatic balance. It was used to identify the metals from which objects were made and it helped find proportions of alloys, mixtures, and metals. This was useful because some goldsmiths and silversmiths might trick customers by mixing cheap metals with valuable ones.

Another accomplishment he did was the publishing of Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Concerning Two New Sciences (force and motion). Sir Isaac Newton used it to help him discover the laws of gravity and motion twenty-seven years later.

In 1615, Galileo wrote a letter to defend himself, that scientists were entitled to their opinions and should be allowed to express it. This letter is now known as the Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina. The letter did not work. Galileo decided to go to Rome to reason with Pope Paul IV. He couldn?t convince the Pope, though, and in 1616, a Church investigation instructed Galileo to only present Copernicus? theory as a possibility, and never to talk and write in support of it.

When Galileo was put on trial for challenging the Church?s belief, which was the geocentric theory, it was a difficult time in his life. This theory stated that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth, which was immovable. His book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (the Church and science) was supposed to be a balanced book comparing old and new astronomical theories. However, the book supported Copernicus? theory. When the Church discovered this, Galileo was put on trail, and was accused of breaking the agreement with the Church. He had to admit that he was wrong and went too far. He went against his beliefs to please the Church. Galileo was found guilty of heresy. All his books, like Starry Messenger and Letters on Sunspots, were banned and copies of Dialogue were burned. His punishment was prison for life.

The Pope, however, changed the punishment to house arrest. During this time, he suffered from a hernia. The Church didn?t allow him to leave to see a doctor. Later he went blind because of an infection. His blindness did not cease him from keeping himself busy; he wrote letters to many scientists and was visited by many people, like the Grand Duke of Tuscany (his long-time friend), the English poet John Milton, and Thomas Hobbes, the English scientist and philosopher.

Although he was under house arrest, Galileo was still a sharp astronomer. In 1637, he realized the moon had periodic librations (slight ?rocking? movements). It rocks because the axis of spin is not perpendicular to its equator and it does not revolve around the Earth at a constant speed. The outcome is that we can see more than half of the moon?s surface at any given time.

Many attempts were made to pardon Galileo and free him of his house arrest. These failed, but Galileo said that he could not be pardoned because only the guilty could be pardoned. He was working on pendulums when he became sick with fever. Galileo Galilei died on January 8, 1642, at Arcetri. Since the Church found Galileo a heretic, a quiet ceremony was held and he was buried in a cemetery in the family church in Florence. In the next century, his remains were moved to a fine tomb in the church of Santa Croce, and Galileo took his just place in history as one of the most important scientists of all time. He finally got the recognition he deserved.

However, it was not until 350 years after his death that Pope John Paul II of the Roman Catholic Church pardoned Galileo. ?Galileo?suffered at the hands of?the Church,? the pope announced. The Church seemed to accept the words C sare Cardinal Baronio said in 1615, ?The Bible tells us how to make it to Heaven, not how Heaven is made.?


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