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10 facts about Galileo Galilei

One of the most prolific scientists of all time, Galileo’s life and accomplishments has been studied and written about in detail for centuries. From his discovery of the moons of Jupiter to his fight with Pope Urban VIII, noted authors and playwrights have been fascinated with both Galileo’s life and contributions. Galileo claimed to have discovered sunspots and that the sun rotates. His abrasive and outspoken criticism of Aristotelian philosophy and his obvious acceptance of the Copernican worldview, particularly in his Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems, led him into serious trouble with the Roman Catholic Church, which placed him under house arrest for the last eight years of his life. With the addition of the Galileo Galilei article to Oxford Bibliographies in the Renaissance and Reformation, I’d like to share ten interesting facts about Galileo.

1. Galileo was said to have dropped two cannon balls of different masses from the leaning tower of Pisa to demonstrate that their speed of descent was independent of their mass. Many people believe this story to be untrue since its only source was Galileo’s secretary.

2. Galileo never married and had all his children out of wedlock with Marina Gambia, whom he met on a trip to Venice.

3. While many remember Galileo’s confrontation with the church, many forget that both his daughters joined the convent of San Matteo in Arcetri and remained there for the rest of their lives. Galileo even went as far as help out in the convent, repairing windows and making sure that the convent clock was in order.

4. Joseph Nicolas Robert-Fleury painted “Galileo before the Holy Office,” a representation of the scientist speaking before the clergy currently on display at the Luxembourg Museum.

Image Credit: ‘Galileo Galilei’, Justus Sustermans (1636). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

5. Galileo was an accomplished lutenist, learning from his father, Vincenzo Galilei, who was a composer and music theorist.

6. While Galileo firmly believed in Copernicus’s theory that the Earth was not the center of the universe, he did not believe in his Kepler’s theory that the moon caused the tides.

7. In the last year of his life, when he was totally blind, Galileo designed an escapement mechanism for a pendulum clock called Galileo’s escapement.

8. German dramatist Bertolt Brecht wrote a play about Galileo entitled Life of Galileo, which first appeared on Broadway in 1947 with Charles Laughton as the title character. Brecht worked closely with Laughton and re-worked the final version of the play with him. The play was adapted to the screen in 1975 with Chaim Topol (listed as Topol) as the lead and Sir John Gielgud as a Cardinal Inquisitor. The latest revival of the play is a 2012 off-Broadway production in which F. Murray Abraham played the lead role.

9. The song “Galileo” is the biggest hit of the folk group Indigo Girls. The song is about reincarnation through the lens of the story of Galileo’s role in the scientific revolution.

10. The middle finger of Galileo’s right hand has been exhibited at the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy.

Featured Image Credit: ‘Galileischer Moon’, Image by DasWortgewand, CC0 Public Domain, via pixabay.

Recent Comments

  1. holly taber

    I think Galileo is a very important man im doing a project and I think this helped a lot and im going to use u in my bibliography
    btw im in collage so everyone will look you up

  2. Tim

    @HollyTaber, I’d just like to let you know that the word you were looking for was college; collage is a collection of pictures. You’re in college?

  3. Tyla Ing

    This is actually really helpful despite the fact it isn’t all date of birth, what hes famous for, died and whatnot so thank you.

  4. Heaven

    I think Galileo was a very inportant man

  5. Isaac Ndegwa

    If galileo was living today with todays technology he can do woders .

  6. Partoghomous

    Really helpful.

  7. Ashton Lesser

    Really Helpful

  8. Nita

    I can’t believe the spelling in the comments I have read… Thank you for the information

  9. myika

    that is good stuff

  10. grace

    i love galileo

  11. […]     “10 facts about Galileo Galilei” by Matt […]

  12. amyly

    Interesting! I got more knowledge after read all about him .

  13. jade obrien

    you are amazing and so are you’re inventions

  14. Jade Stone

    I considered myself as a follower of Albert Einstein and Galileo. I believe in their works!
    Einstein’s favorite scientist was Galileo Galilei and I look up to them.

  15. Johanna lei

    this very interesting and helpful because I am doing a slideshow about him

  16. Matthew Croom

    I’m also doing a project on Galileo and i think he was the greatest astronomer that ever lived

  17. Mia

    This was for my year 5 homework it has been amazing I’ve learnt so much and my teacher miss Aslett was so impressed with my knowlege

  18. gage

    he is very important he found venus

  19. Dominic

    What was Galileo like?

    (Need Help)

  20. Chloe

    Did Galileo invent the telescope? I am wondering because I have A project I have to finish. Thanks for the the info though btw ^-^.

  21. Liv

    @Chloe Galileo did not invent the telescope but he did improve it. If you looking for more information about what he did to improve and his other inventions this sight is probably not ideal b/c its just interesting facts.
    Hope this is helpful! Good luck on your project! :)

  22. bob the great

    like post

  23. Makenna

    I am doing a project on Galileo Galilei, this helped very much!
    Thank You!

  24. likhona

    more info please

  25. no name

    same stuff on history channel website just a little bit re typed

  26. Alanah

    thank you

Comments are closed.