“Passion is the genesis of genius.”
Galileo was born in Pisa, Italy in 1564, twenty-one years after the passing of Nicolas Copernicus. Yet, in years to come, Galileo would come to embrace his predecessor’s theory, and confirm its validity. Considered the first great scientist of the modern age, Galileo insisted on observation and experimentation as the basis for scientific progress.
In 1609, Galileo traveled to Venice. Here he found a novelty called a perspicillium, made by a Dutch spectacle maker. Consisting of two lenses in a tube it could make a remote steeple look as if it were just across the road. An ingenious inventor, Galileo made one of his own but with ten times as much magnification. In a flash of genius, Galileo used his telescope at night to look at the Moon and the stars. What he saw was remarkable. The Moon was not the perfect sphere as everyone had assumed; it also had mountains, valleys, cliffs and even evidence of seas. Jupiter was not the perfect isolated sphere either; plus it had four moons of its own. And Venus had phases, similar to the Moon. These discoveries could only signify the unthinkable for that time. The Earth was not at the centre of the universe, but moved round the sun, as Copernicus had suggested 70 years earlier.
Galileo’s life is a testament to perseverance and optimism. “Nevertheless, it turns,” he said after being forced to renounce his Heliocentric view of the earth. His work was the genesis of the scientific revolution that was too powerful to hold back. Galileo died in 1642, the same year that Isaac Newton was born in England. The journey would continue.
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”