Galileo - Early Professional Life

Galileo Galilei was born at a time when people believed the sun revolved around the earth - a theory originally proposed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. 

Through the years, when people questioned the reasonableness of such a position, they were punished.  Giordano Bruno, for example, was burned alive for his "heresy."

The Catholic Church taught that astronomy could only be understood through the Bible.  Church leaders also used the calendar to give a religious meaning to the year.

During his early life, Galileo thought about becoming a priest but started medical school at the University of Pisa (where the Jesuits - a religious order - approved the curricula).  After a few months, Galileo decided, instead, to study math (which he viewed as the alphabet of the universe).

After achieving his degree, Galileo went to the University of Padua which was under the supervision of the Republic of Venice (instead of the Catholic Church).  Scholars who worked and studied at Padua had more academic freedom than individuals who studied in other Italian cities (like Rome and Florence).

When he took a break from his work, Galileo often went to Venice.  There he met Marina Gamba with whom he eventually had three children.  (The couple never married and did not live together.)  Their oldest child - a daughter, Virginia - was born in 1600. 

When Galileo heard about a new device, called a telescope, he was determined to improve it.  At the time, it was very difficult to fashion improved lenses, especially to increase their magnification, but as Galileo reshaped his pieces of glass he reshaped mankind's view of the world.

Initially, Galileo thought he could make an income selling his telescope to the Navy.  For the first time, authorities could see incoming ships much sooner.  They could also determine, hours earlier than before, whether people onboard those ships were friend or foe. 

Galileo's demonstrations, atop St. Mark's Tower, were impressive.  Not only did he receive a significant order for his telescopes, he was also awarded a lifetime pension for his services to the Republic of Venice.

Then - Galileo pointed his telescope to the sky.  He would soon encounter new - and troublesome issues - when he made some startling discoveries.

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Media Credits

Clip from "Galileo's Battle for the Heavens," a NOVA Production by Green Umbrella, LTD for WGBH/Boston (in association with Channel 4).  Copyright 2002 - WGBH Educational Foundation, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the 2002 program. Online, via NOVA and YouTube.

Transcript of entire program online, courtesy NOVA.

Written and Produced by:
David Axelrod

Directed by:
Peter Jones

Narrated by:

Liev Schreiber

Simon Callow - Galileo
Laura Nardi - Maria Celeste
John Fraser - the Inquisitor
Alexa Jago - Voice of Maria Celeste
Cornelius Garrett - Voices of the Ambassador and Castelli


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"Galileo - Early Professional Life" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Dec 05, 2019.
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