Galileo Galilei

Condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in 1633 for declaring that Earth moved round the Sun, Galileo was placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life.

an additional blow to the ancient view that the heavens were perfect, Galileo saw that the Moon's surface was not a smooth, polished sphere but was scarred by craters and mountains. Most significantly of all, he found that Jupiter was orbited by four moons, now known as the Galilean satellites. He went on to discover that Venus shows phases, proof that it orbits the Sun, and glimpsed the rings of Saturn, although he did not recognize what they were.

This new view of the heavens, coming hard on the heels of Kepler's theoretical breakthrough, swept away the old Earth-centered view of the universe for good. But a more fundamental problem remained. What was the force that made planets orbit the Sun as they do? Galileo's experiments helped found modern physics. He dropped objects of different weights from a tall tower, reputedly the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and found that they all reached the ground at the same time, whereas Greek scientists such as Aristotle had taught that heavier objects should fall faster.

What is more, Galileo discovered that the velocity of a falling object doubled for every 32 ft (9.8 m) that it fell, a constant figure that later became known as acceleration due to gravity.

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