Through the Looking Glass :
Galileo Galilei

By: Evelyn Chow

    Galileo Galilei, an Italian scientist, mathematician, and inventor, was born on February 15, 1564 in Pisa, Italy.  He was the oldest of six children.  At a young age, he would always find household items and put them together to make mechanical toys.  His father wanted him to study medicine and become a doctor, but Galileo always loved math and persuaded his father to let him study in that area.  To earn money, he helped teach students mathematics while getting his degree.  Many of Galileo's inventions were done out of need because he has to help pay off his sisters' weddings.  Some of Galileo's most famous inventions include the sector, the thermoscope, and the telescope.

     The sector, a geometric compass, is a scientific instrument which has two arms that can be used for making calculations and geometric measurements.  It was also used for non-scientific things such as land surveying and gunnery. Galileo got the inspiration from two different instruments, the cannon compass and the carpenter's square.  Many modern day measuring instruments are based on this invention.

    The thermoscope is an instrument used to measure temperature variations.  It is a water tube filled with water bubbles that weight differently.  When the temperature of the water changes, some of the bubbles will sink and some will float, this is used to indicate the temperature changes.  The one that goes to the bottom is the the temperature indicator.  It is this invention that led to the creation of the thermometer.

     Many of Galileo's inventions were not originated from him, but what he did was make these inventions better and be used for other purposes.  One of his most famous invention is the telescope which was original called spyglass and was invented by craftsman to magnify objects.  Galileo was fascinated by the use of spyglass and modified it to allow it to have 20 times magnification so that it can be used to observe the stars.  It is made of a long barrel with convex and concave lens at both ends.  It was with this telescope that Galileo discovered that the moon was not smooth as everyone at the time had thought.  He also use it to discover the 4 satellites around Jupiter.  It is this inventive modification that gives us the modern day telescope.

    "Father of Modern Observational Astronomy" is the name often used to describe Galileo.  This is due to the fact that he was one of the first inventors to build instruments to help discover the sky above us.  He was under house arrest in the last 10 years of his life because his believes did not match the church's.  In his final years, Galileo was blind because of eye disease, but that did not stop his research that he continues to do at his home.  It is his strong will and dedication that made him one of the more memorable inventors.  Galileo Galilei died at the age of 78 on January 8, 1642.


"Galileo Facts" 24 Oct. 2012
"Galileo Galilei" 24 Oct. 2012
"Galileo Galilei" 25 Oct. 2012
"The Galileo Project" 27 Oct. 2012
"How does a Galileo thermometer work?" 28 Oct. 2012
"Galileo's Compass" Institute and Museum of the History of Science 29 Oct. 2012
"Galileo Galilei" The Robinson Library 30 Oct. 2012

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