Tuesday 25 February 2014

History - Galileo's discovery

This history lesson will focus on how we got to find out that the earth is round and revolves around the sun as well as round itself.

It all started a long time ago in Italy when a man called Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) became a famous mathematician, physicist and philosopher. He was born in Pisa and often walked leaning sideways. When he eventually became famous the townsfolk built a tower in his honour and made it lean sideways to look just like him.

He achieved great distinction amongst society by doing his homework whilst at school and not wasting time watching TV or playing video games. This proved easy for him because at the time neither TV nor video games had been invented; so it was either a choice of doing homework or helping with the household chores.

Anyway, as he grew up Galileo used to think a lot. He would sit on a chair in the veranda for hours and just think rather than help his father work in the fields. One day he looked over the field at the people far away and wondered why they were small. "Do people shrink as they walk away from you?" he thought. "And how is it they grow up again the closer they get to you?"

It was a mystery which exercised his imagination until his friend Vidi Maximus suggested that he should invent the telescope.

It is worth noting here that Vidi Maximus was the second of the three Max Brothers - Veni, Vidi, Vici.

Vici was always fighting, whereas Vidi had great foresight as well as hindsigth because he had eyes at the back of his head. Not much is known of the elder brother Veni.

But I digress as I often do to add interest to my conversations and to check whether you're still paying attention or have fallen asleep.

So, using a few inner rolls of toilet paper Galileo stuck them together and made a long cardboard tube. He looked down one end and was disheartened to find that the men in the field were just as small as before.

It took Vidi Maximus quite a lot of patience to explain to Galileo that it would be better if he were to put some lenses in the tube first. And that's how Galileo invented the telescope.

One day as he was sitting in the veranda thinking, Galileo noticed that the shadow of a nearby tree moved every so often and it was not always in the same place. He looked up to the sun and was nearly blinded by its brilliance; so he cursed that he had not invented sunglasses as well as the telescope.

He figured out that either the sun is moving around and so giving the illusion that the shadow is moving, or the sun is standing still in one place and it was the earth which was moving.

He waited until nightfall and then he got his friend Vidi Maximus to walk in a big circle in the street holding a lit torch. To his delight he noticed that as Vidi walked around in a big circle the shadow of the tree moved round as well. This proved to Galileo that the earth moved around the tree ... until Vidi patiently once again pointed out that the earth moved around the sun not the tree.

Eventually, the slow Galileo saw the light, from the torch as well as in his head, and realised that the earth indeed moved round a stationary sun. They were both so excited by their great discovery that they stopped suddenly and cheered at the top of their voices. Unfortunately they were run over by a passing fast chariot.

The following day, dazed and bedraggled, Galileo got out of hospital and decided to go public with his discovery. He told everyone that the earth revolves around the sun. They all laughed at him.  

Some church people said that this was all heresy and he should be arrested.

It was at this period, whilst challenged for his beliefs, that he is supposed to have said "Eppur si muove!"

This is a famous saying which in Italian means "and yet it moves".

This is believed to refer to the fact that he maintained at all times that the earth revolves around the sun; and has nothing to do with the notion that he was referring to his over-large mother-in-law who got up from her chair to make everyone a well deserved Expresso coffee.


  1. Can you slow that rotating earth down? :oD
    It is making me VERY, very dizzy...

    1. Hi Hand-Maid,

      The picture of the earth rotating was taken at the time of Galileo when people were relatively poor and thin; and there was not that many of them. Now that people are much larger and there's more of them on earth, the weight of the planet is heavier and the earth rotates at lesser speed.

      I'll try and find a more recent picture of the earth.

      God bless.

    2. You really do crack me up (I know I will regret writing this, because I can just hear your response about me cracking up (literally), but you know what I mean).
      But you are correct, Victor, I am one of those people slowing down the earths rotation.

      I will attempt to read the top part of your post, after I take some Dramamine.

    3. Ah Hand-Maid. We've got to laugh. It's no point being miserable. I find I laugh the most when I look at the mirror.

      I hope you enjoy this history post. I think I learn a lot from history; especially when I write it.

      God bless.

  2. Hahaha, too funny! Well done. :)

    1. Hello Manny,

      Apparently 90% of what I wrote above is true. But I'm not sure which 90% it is.

      God bless.

  3. Lol! Another great "History Rewritten" post, Victor! I cracked up when I read the names of the three brothers "Veni, Vidi and Vici!

    So, Galileo's great discoveries were due to his avoiding work, huh? Funny!

    I loved the ending as well! Thanks for the laugh, Victor!

    1. Oh I'm well into history Mary. There will be more history lessons I hope.

      Galileo is the first known person to make good use of the inner cardboard tube of toilet paper. Although he was helped by one the the Max Brothers.

      God bless.

  4. The way I remember the story of the tower of Pisa is that Galileo was over weight and stood on one side of the building looking through his new invention and the side of land that he was standing on started to sink a little which what really made the tower lean.

    Come on Victor #1, you know as well as I do that the Tower also never really looked like Galileo cause that was just a fairy tale so let's at least try to get our facts straight now! :)


    1. I always thought Galileo did walk with a slight lean to one side. Especially when walking at the edge of the sidewalk with one foot on the sidewalk and one in the street.

      Peace and God bless.



God bless you.