7 Facts About Galileo Galilei You Didn’t Know

Galileo Galilei was one of the most famous scientists in history, known for his contributions to the fields of physics, astronomy, and mathematics. However, there is much more to his life than just his famous observations of the planets and his conflict with the Catholic Church. Here are seven lesser-known facts about Galileo Galilei.

  1. Galileo’s name wasn’t always Galileo Galileo was actually born “Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei” in 1564 in Pisa, Italy. He was the first of six children born to his father, a musician and wool trader, and his mother, who came from a wealthy family. Galileo dropped his last name, “de’ Galilei,” when he moved to Florence and began his academic career, perhaps to sound more Italian.
  2. Galileo’s first job was as a lute teacher After completing his university studies, Galileo struggled to find a job in academia. His father had died, leaving the family with little money, so Galileo turned to teaching music to make a living. He taught the lute, a stringed instrument similar to a guitar, to wealthy students in Florence. It wasn’t until he began working as a math tutor that he found his true calling.
  3. Galileo was a champion fencer Galileo was known to be an athletic and agile man, and he was particularly skilled in the art of fencing. He was a member of the Accademia dei Lincei, a scientific society in Rome, where he was known to challenge other members to duels. He also designed a geometric compass that he said could be used as a weapon in self-defense.
  4. Galileo had a daughter out of wedlock In 1600, Galileo began a relationship with Marina Gamba, a woman from Venice. They had two children together, a son and a daughter, but they were not married. Their daughter, Virginia, was raised by Galileo’s sister and her husband, and later became a nun. Galileo was close to Virginia throughout her life, and his letters to her provide insight into his personal life and his views on religion.
  5. Galileo may have been partially blind In 1637, Galileo began to experience problems with his eyesight. He wrote in a letter that he had “almost entirely lost the use of my left eye, and the right eye is failing.” This may have been due to cataracts or glaucoma, but it is not clear. However, despite his vision problems, Galileo continued to work on his scientific research until his death in 1642.
  6. Galileo was a fan of astrology Although Galileo is best known for his work in astronomy, he was also interested in astrology. He believed that there was a connection between the positions of the planets and human behavior, and he even cast horoscopes for his friends and family. However, he was also critical of astrologers who made false claims and used their predictions to defraud people.
  7. Galileo’s body was moved twice after his death Galileo died in 1642 and was buried in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence. However, in 1737, his body was exhumed and moved to a more prominent location in the church. Then, in 1739, the church was renovated and Galileo’s body was moved again, this time to a small side chapel. Today, visitors can see a monument to Galileo in the chapel, but his actual remains are in an unmarked tomb beneath the floor.

Galileo Galilei was a complex and fascinating figure, whose life and work continue to inspire scientists and scholars today.

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