Galileo - Creativity and Science
Italian scientist and astronomer from Pisa (pictured right).
Founder of modern mechanics
Inventor of the pendulum clock and pioneer in gravity and
The first person to use a telescope to study the skies.
His most famous book
The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632)
This supports Nicholas Copernicus’s idea that the Earth orbited the sun.
But Galileo was forced to publicly reject Copernicus by the Roman Catholic Church in 1633.
Why was he so creative?
1. Lover of learning and truth
He never stopped learning by:
- passionately believing in scientific truth.
- finding new knowledge (even after he became blind in 1637).
Only enormous pressure and threat of punishment forced him to
support the Church’s rejection of Copernicus' correct belief that the Earth orbited the sun.
Pictured right above is Cristiano Banti's 1857 painting of Galileo being questioned by the Church.
2. Questioning intuition
He disproved the intuitive idea that a heavy object should fall faster than a light one by dropping two balls of
different weights from the Tower of Pisa (pictured right).
3. Asking the right questions
To prove that heavy and light objects fall at the same speed, he asked:
“If they were tied together, would the light object help or hinder the fall of the heavy
If it fell slower, the light one would hinder the fall of the heavy one.
But, according to the old theory, because it added weight, the light object would also speed up the heavy
This is nonsense, Galileo said, because it can’t help and hinder the fall of the heavy object at the same
So they must fall at the same speed, he concluded.
4. Challenging existing knowledge (or conventional
He supported Copernicus (pictured right), when everybody else believed that the sun orbited the Earth.
5. Experimenting, observation and accuracy
Galileo's two scientific principles have since dominated modern science:
- experiment and observe the facts to prove an idea, or
- science is most accurately understood by using mathematics.
6. Applying different subjects
He always looked for interrelationships between different subjects to solve practical
He was the first person to apply mathematics to physics and these two subjects to astronomy.
Key quote on education
You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it for himself.
Key quote on
I never met a man so unknowledgeable, I could not learn something from him.
Key quote on
Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what
is not so.
Key quotes on
Mathematics is the key and door to the sciences.
But it [the Earth] moves (said in support of Copernicus after his recantation
before the Spanish Inquisition).