Friday, May 5, 2023

The Galileo Museum in Florence Is Worthwhile Destination

Operations of the Compass: Geometric and Military
Dedication to D Cosimo Medici
The Galileo Museum in Florence offers keen insights into the incredible advances in science, astronomy and geometry more than 400 years ago. The museum showcases microscopes, telescopes, lenses, barometers, globes, models of planetary movements and even medical devices. 

Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian physicist, astronomer and engineer. Born in Pisa, an hour to the west, his family moved to Florence when he was eight. He joined them when he was ten.

If you go to Florence, you might consider a day-trip by train to Pisa. The leaning tower is a letdown to some people, but there is plenty more to see than that. Here in Florence, though, you can get a focused picture of the period in which Gallileo made his way. 

I was surprised to discover that Galileo did not start out in astronomy or geometry, but had gone to school for a medical degree. Doctors, even then, made more money than the average tradesman. Nevertheless, his other interests propelled him into a wide range of explorations into the natural world.

Galileo wasn't the first person to use a telescope to look at the moon, but he was the first to map what he saw. He was also the first to observe moons orbiting Jupiter.

His ceaseless curiosity about the stars and earth's place in the universe got him embroiled in religious wrangling at a time when such conflicts were unhealthy for one's career. The Roman Inquisition was active at this time. His writings countered the then-current narrative that the sun
travelled around the earth, an Aristotle proposition that had not yet been discarded due to the works of Copernicus. (EdNote: And idea can be erroneous even when it is believed by the majority.)

After a trial Galileo was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. His book was banned and he was forbidden to publish anything else for the rest of his life. He disregarded this, continuing research in new directions. His book The Two Sciences was published in Holland, a book about kinematics and the strength of materials. Three centuries later Albert Einstein would praise this early work in the field of physics.

The Galileo Museum is just around the corner from the Uffizi Gallery, and a stone's throw from the Arno. 

And much, much more.

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