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Galileo

As I warned the reader in several places earlier, I am no historian. However, I do have many traits in common with real Historians; in particular, I like to construct theories of "what probably really happened" to fit my own interpretation of the historical "data." Physicists also like this sort of revisionism, but I think we are mercifully more shameless and direct about it. ["Yeah, OK, I lied; but it was a good lie - doesn't it make everything easier to understand?"] With this caveat, I will relate a bit of Brewer's History of Classical Mechanics.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was a clever Italian megalomaniac who took pleasure in publicly ridiculing his intellectual opponents and regarded the authorities as annoying buffoons to be manipulated by any means available in order to obtain funding for his pet projects. He thus epitomized a fine tradition which continues to this day. Galileo is widely credited with being "the Father of Modern Science" because of the experimental æsthetics he championed6.3 and because of the impact of his major work, Two New Sciences [mechanics and the strength of materials], published in 1636. I am inclined to think that his distinctive personality and style had just as much to do with his deserving this title; today these traits are still apt to improve the bearer's chances for distinction by various prizes and accolades.



 
next up previous
Next: Harvard? Up: Falling Bodies Previous: Falling Bodies
Jess H. Brewer
1998-09-06