Galileo was an Italian scientist and scholar.
He was born in Pisa in 1564. His father was the musician Vincenzo Galilei. Galileo initially had little interest in science and instead studied medicine at the University of Pisa. However after he apparently observed the swaying of chandeliers in Pisa Cathedral (from which he got the idea that a pendulum could be used to make a clock), and accidentally overheard a geometry lesson, he became fascinated with science and mathematics. He gave up on medicine and switched to science and maths in university.
He went on to become professor of mathematics at Padua University. Here he made an important disvovery-that all solid objects fall at the same speed. There is a myth that he dropped objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to prove his point.
He built an improved telescope with a magnification of 32. He was the first to use a telescope to study the skies. He spotted the mountains and craters on the moon, sunspots on the surface of the sun and saw the four moons around Jupiter. Galileo also used his telescope to prove Copernicus's theory that the sun was the centre of the universe.
The Catholic Church supported the ideas of Greek writer Ptolemy, which stated the sun was the centre of the universe. They were threatened by Galileo and warned him against spreading his ideas. However he did not listen and published a book on his findings. He was summoned before the Inquisition in Rome and forced to deny his beliefs under threat of torture.
Galileoi's mistress Marina Gamba (1570 – 21 August 1612?) bore him two daughters, (Maria Celeste (Virginia, 1600–1634) and Livia (1601–1659), both of whom became nuns), and a son, Vincenzo (1606–1649), a lutenist musician.
Galileo was sentenced to house arrest in his home in Florence by the Inquisition and spent the last eight years of his life there. He went blind in 1637 but continued working up until his death in 1642. He is hailed as "the father of modern science".
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