Sixteenth century Italy produced a genius who marked the world with his studies and hypotheses about mathematical, physical and astronomical truths. His father, musician Vincenzio Galilei said, ' Truth is not found behind a man ' s reputation. Truth appears only when the answers to questions are searched out by a free mind. This is not the easy path in life but it is the most rewarding. ' Galileo challenged divine law and the physics of Aristotle, and questioned everything in search of truths. And it was on this quest for truth that he was able to establish a structure for modern science.
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June 01, 1958
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Excerpt from Galileo and The Magic Numbers by Sidney Rosen
GALILEO lay on his back, hands under his head, and stared up at the crack that zigzagged across the ceiling. There was just enough moonlight coming through the bedroom window to follow the dark line in the plaster. Outside, all about his house, the city of Pisa slept peacefully. Somewhere far away, Galileo could hear the faint clumping of horses' feet on cobblestones. It was probably the night watch riding through the streets.
On the other side of the room, his younger brother, Michelangelo, turned restlessly in his bed and muttered, "Good--good doggie." He must be dreaming of the puppy Father promised him, Galileo thought. His sister, Virginia, was still a baby and slept in their parents' bedroom.
The weather was cold--it was the middle of February--and the boys' bedroom was chilled. But Galileo was too excited thinking about the next day to notice that his blanket had fallen to one side.
Tomorrow, he said to himself, I will be nine years old. Nine years, that's a long time to have been alive. And tomorrow I begin my studies at the school of Master Borghini. I wonder what that will be like. Will he beat me if I do not know my lessons?
He remembered what his father had said about school the day before. Galileo had asked him, "Why must I go away to school. Father? Why can't you teach me more here at home?"
His father had shaken his head. "There are certain things I can teach well, son, and certain things I can't teach at all. Remember, going to school is a privilege--the privilege of nobility. The sons of poor commoners have to go to work by the time they are your age--there's no school for them. But for you, the son of Vincenzio Galilei, musician at the Court of Florence, there will be schooling. Be glad you are one who can go to school!"
And Galileo, who loved his father very much and would do anything to please him, clapped his hands and cried, "I am glad, Father, I am!"
Now Galileo began to practice his Latin declensions, conjugations, and grammar rules out loud, so that he would be ready for the next day.
"Canto, I sing; cantos, you sing; cantat, he sings. Sum, I am; fui, I was. Qui, quae, quod, cuius, cuius, cuius, cui, cui--"
"What is all this commotion in here!" His mother's voice hissed sharply as the door was flung open.
"I was just practicing my Latin for tomorrow. Mother."
"Oh, all that nonsense about learning and education! Better your father got some sense into his head and apprenticed you to some rich merchant! But these Galileis with their notions about nobility and learning! Now, be quiet, or you'll wake your brother, and then I'll have a job on my hands. You may be nine years old, young man, but you're not old enough so that I can't give you a good spanking! Now, go to sleep!"
"Yes, Mother." Why did Madam Giulia always have to be shouting at him, he wondered. I'll practice quietly, he decided. Ab, ante, con, in, inter, ob, post, prae ... suddenly the words seemed far, far away. A moment later, Galileo was fast asleep.
In the morning, his father came into the room while he was dressing. Michelangelo was in the kitchen having breakfast.
"Inspection!" cried Vincenzio gaily. "Turn around! Point one--hose and breeches clean. Right! Point two--hair trimmed and combed. Right! Point three--jerkin clean and no wrinkles. Right! Point four--shoes brushed. No, not right!"
He pointed to a large spot of dirt on Galileo's right shoe.
"Sorry, Father." Galileo hastened to wipe at the thick-soled leather shoe with a cloth.
"Remember, you are Galileo Galilei, son of Vincenzio Galilei. We are a noble family. Remember that one of your ancestors was Tomaso Galilei, one of the Twelve Good Men of Florence. There are certain responsibilities that go with noble breeding: cleanliness, learning, good manners."