Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei (/ˌɡælɪˈleɪ.oʊ ˌɡælɪˈleɪ.iˌ/ GAL-ih-LAY-oh GAL-ih-LAY-ee, Italian: [ɡaliˈlɛːo ɡaliˈlɛi]; 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642), commonly referred to as Galileo, was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath, from the city of Pisa, then part of the Duchy of Florence. Galileo has been called the “father” of observational astronomy, modern physics, the scientific method, and modern science.
Galileo studied speed and velocity, gravity and free fall, the principle of relativity, inertia, projectile motion and also worked in applied science and technology, describing the properties of pendulums and “hydrostatic balances”. He invented the thermoscope and various military compasses, and used the telescope for scientific observations of celestial objects. His contributions to observational astronomy include telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, observation of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, observation of Saturn’s rings, and analysis of lunar craters and sunspots.
Galileo’s championing of Copernican heliocentrism (Earth rotating daily and revolving around the sun) was met with opposition from within the Catholic Church and from some astronomers. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, which concluded that heliocentrism was foolish, absurd, and heretical since it contradicted Holy Scripture.
Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632), which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated both the Pope and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point. He was tried by the Inquisition, found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, and forced to recant. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest. During this time, he wrote Two New Sciences (1638), primarily concerning kinematics and the strength of materials, summarizing work he had done around forty years earlier.