Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei, 1564 - 1642

portrait of Galileo Galilei
Oil on canvas by Giusto Sustermans (1636)
Galileo Galilei signature

Born: 15 February 1564, Pisa, Duchy of Florence
Died: 8 January 1642, Arcetri,Grand Duchy of Tuscany

The eldest of four children to a noted musician and music theorist, the family moved to the capital city of Florence eight years later. Galileo was sent to study at a monastery some 20 miles (35km) away, he enrolled at the University of Pisa to study medicine, then diverted to math. In 1589 he was given the chair of mathematics, in 1592 he moved to the University of Padua to teach geometry, mechanics, and astronomy. During this period he made several discoveries about both kinetics (the physics of motion) and astronomy, and in 1610 published his discovery of the moons of Jupiter. He immediately went to Rome to demonstrate his discoveries to the philosophers of note there, but his arguments for the Copernican or heliocentric model of the solar system began to attract opposition in the church. By 1616 he was instructed not to teach this "heresy", licenses (the "nihil obstat" from the church) for his works were withheld, and in 1632 he was ordered to appear before the Holy Office (commonly referred to as The Inquisition) for trial. He was found "vehemently suspect of heresy" and sentenced to house arrest, and all his works were banned, a prohibition not fully lifted until 1835. Galileo was one of the most important scientists of all time based on his complete refusal to accept existing authority over current experimentation, to a great extent he formulated what is known as the scientific process. On the other hand, he was wrong on many counts, he misunderstood the nature of comets and rejected Kepler's correct understanding of the relationship between the moon and tides. He was also prickly and confrontational, he might have had fewer problems with the church if he hadn't antagonized many Jesuit scholars earlier. He was completely blind by 1638, though he continued to receive visitors. He died after a period of fever and heart palpitations.

Biography from Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopedia

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