Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific revolution. His achievements include the first systematic studies of uniformly accelerated motion, improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and support for Copernicanism.

Galileo’s empirical work was a significant break from the abstract Aristotelian approach of his time. The motion of uniformly accelerated objects, taught in nearly all high school and introductory college physics courses, was studied by him as the subject of kinematics. His contributions to observational astronomy include the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, named the Galilean moons in his honour, and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, improving compass design.

Galileo showed a remarkably modern appreciation for the proper relationship between mathematics, theoretical physics, and experimental physics. He understood the parabola, both in terms of conic sections and in terms of the ordinate (y) varying as the square of the abscissa (x). According to Stephen Hawking, Galileo bears more of the responsibility for the birth of modern science than anybody else. Albert Einstein called him the father of modern science.

The Galileo positioning system is a planned Global Navigation Satellite System, to be built by the European Union (EU) and European Space Agency (ESA). The project is an alternative and complementary to the US GPS and the Russian GLONASS. Galileo is intended to provide: more precise measurements to all users than available through GPS or GLONASS, better positioning services at high latitudes, and an independent positioning system upon which European nations can rely even in times of war.

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