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The 15 Most Important People in European History

The List:
1 Adolf Hitler
2 Isaac Newton
3 Albert Einstein
4 Queen Elizabeth I
5 Charles Darwin
6 King Henry VIII
7 Leonardo Da Vinci
8 Mahatma Gandhi
9 Otto Von Bismarck
10 Galileo Galilei
11 Winston Churchill
12 Michelangelo
13 William Shakespeare
14 Francis Bacon
15 Pablo Picasso
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No. 10 Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa in 1564, the son of Vincenzo Galilei. He studied at Pisa, where he later held the chair in mathematics from 1589 - 1592. He was then appointed to the chair of mathematics at the University of Padua, where he remained until 1610. During these years he carried out studies and experiments in mechanics, and also built a thermoscope. He devised and constructed a geometrical and military compass, and wrote a handbook which describes how to use this instrument. In 1594 he obtained the patent for a machine to raise water levels.

He invented the microscope, and built a telescope with which he made celestial observations, the most spectacular of which was his discovery of the satellites of Jupiter. In 1610, he was nominated the foremost Mathematician of the University of Pisa and given the title of mathematician to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He studied Saturn and observed the phases of Venus. In 1611, he went to Rome. He became a member of the Accademia dei Lincei and observed the sunspots. In 1612, he began to encounter serious opposition to his theory of the motion of the earth that he taught after Copernicus.

In 1616, he was admonished by Cardinal Bellarmino and told that he could not defend Copernican astronomy because it went against the doctrine of the Church. In 1622, he wrote the Saggiatore (The Assayer) which was approved and published in 1623. In 1630 he returned to Rome to obtain the right to publish his Dialogue on the two chief world systems which was eventually published in Florence in 1632. In October of 1632, he was summoned by the Holy Office to Rome. The tribunal passed a sentence condemning him and compelled Galileo to solemnly abjure his theory. He was sent to exile in Siena and finally, in December of 1633, he was allowed to retire to his villa in Arcetri, the Gioiello. His health condition was steadily declining. By 1638, he was completely blind. Galileo died in Arcetri on 8 January 1642.

Galileo's discoveries have certainly had direct impact on people's everyday lives. He demonstrated that the velocities of falling bodies are not proportional to their weights; showing that the path of a projectile is a parabola. He built the first astronomical telescope. He came up with the ideas behind Newton's laws of motion. Finally, he confirmed the Copernican theory of the solar system. These discoveries have caused humans to better understand the surroundings in which they live.

The Second reason for his inclusion is the large-scale impact on countries. Galileo's ideas were denounced as he was viewed has a heretic by the Church of Rome. His ideas, however, would make it possible for people to better understand that universe in the future.

The third and perhaps most important reasons for Galileo's inclusion on this list are his impacts on long term movements. Galileo was the first scientist to really use the scientific method, not just to concieve of it, but to put it to practical use. Galileo observed that objects fall at the same speed, regardless of mass, and actually tested it--the scientific method in action. This would continue in all fields of science for many years. Another way that Galileo impacted long term movments concerns astronomy. Galileo was the first person to observe the stars with a teloscope, therefore was the first moden day astronomer. Astronomy certainly has become important, and it all stems from that one man. Finally, Galileo was the first to use the long-term movment of resistance to censorship. The Catholic Church opposed his ideas, and he fought them. The objection to censorship that he showed would continue in the fields of science, as well as other places, up to modern day. Galileo certainly had impact on long-term movments.

Birth: February 15, 1564 in Pisa, Italy
Nickname: Not Applicable
Education: University of Pisa; medicine
Occupation: Astronomer/Mathematician
Religious Affiliation: Catholic
Marriage: Galileo was never married. However, he did have a brief relationship with Marina Gamba, a woman he met on one of his many trips to Venice.
Children: 1600 - Virginia, who later takes the name Maria Celeste.
1601 - Livia, who later takes the name Arcangela.
Political Affiliation: In 1610, Galileo took a position at the Court of the Medici family.
Writings: The Messenger of the Stars (1610)
Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (1616)
The Assayer (1623)
Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems: Ptolemaic and Copernican (1632)
Concerning Two New Sciences (1638)
Died: January 8, 1642 in his home outside of Florence
Buried: Church of Santo Croce, in Florence

Links for Galileo Galilei
The Galileo Project -
Galileo Galilei -
Galileo Links -
The Galileo Affair -