Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition

In 1609, the world witnessed an amazing achievement: an Italian inventor with an insatiable interest in mathematics, mechanics, and astronomy learned that the latest innovation from Holland—a compact cylinder with an arrangement of convex and concave lenses—allowed people to look closely at distant objects. Immediately creating one of these tools for yourself, Galileo Galilei pointed him to heaven and shattered the prevailing philosophies of the world.

Looking through his Galileo telescope saw that the universe was vaster and that the stars were more abundant than men had previously supposed. He also noted that sunspots cover the sun and craters cover the moon, and provided the first evidence that the planets – including his own – revolved constantly around the sun. Galileo’s observations clearly caused shock waves. But who was the man behind the discoveries that would change our world forever? This collection of Galileo quotes sheds some light on the famous astronomer’s attitudes and philosophy.

What are some famous quotes from Galileo Galilei?

These insightful quotes from Galileo were originally written in Latin and Italian and appear in the scientist’s book Nuncius Sidereus (1610), Il Saggiatore (1623) and A dialogue concerning the two major world systems (1632), as well as Galileo’s letters to Bellisario Vinta in 1610. Mark Wessler in 1612 andGrand Duchess of Tuscany in 1615

1. “I have observed the nature and material of the Milky Way. By the aid of the telescope it has been looked at so directly and with such ocular certainty that all the controversies which have tormented philosophers for so many centuries have been settled, and we are at last freed from long-winded debates about it.

2. “In reality, a galaxy is nothing but a group of countless stars grouped together in clusters.”

3. “The increase of known truths stimulates the study, establishment, and growth of the arts; not their reduction or destruction.

4. “Philosophy is written in that great book—I mean the universe—which stands continually open to our view, but cannot be understood unless one first learns to understand the language in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which one cannot understand a single word of it; without them one wanders in a dark labyrinth.

5. “In the sciences, the authority of a thousand opinions is not worth as much as a tiny spark of reason in an individual.”

6. “To apply oneself to great inventions, starting from the smallest beginnings, is not a task for ordinary minds; to discover that wonderful arts lie behind trivial and childish things is a conception of superhuman talents.

7. “Nature … is inexorable and unchanging; she never breaks the laws imposed upon her, and does not even care whether her obscure reasons and methods of action are comprehensible to men.

8. “I do not feel bound to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect, intended us to give up the use of them, and in some other way to give us knowledge which we can attain by them. ”

9. “The intention of the Holy Spirit is to teach us how a man goes to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

10. “I think that in discussing physical problems we must begin, not from the authority of scriptural passages, but from sense experiences and necessary demonstrations.”

11. “It always seems to me extremely rash on the part of some to make human ability the measure of what nature can do. On the contrary, there is not a single effect in nature, not even the least existing, so that the most ingenious theorists can arrive at a complete understanding of it.

12. “I cannot without great astonishment—I would say without great insult to my intellect—hear it ascribed as the principal perfection and nobility of the natural and integral bodies of the universe, that they are invariant, immutable, unchangeable, &c., while on the other hand it is called a great imperfection to be mutable, generable, changeable, &c. For my part, I consider the earth very noble and admirable precisely because of the various modifications, changes, generations, etc., which are constantly taking place in it. ”

13. “I give infinite thanks to God, who has deigned to make me the first observer of wonderful things.”

These quotes are also often attributed to Galileo:

14. “All truths are easy to understand once discovered; the point is to find them.

15. “You can’t teach a person anything, you can only help them find it within themselves.”

16. “Passion is the genesis of genius.”

17. “I never met a man so ignorant that I could not learn something from him.”

18. “By denying scientific principles, one can maintain any paradox.”

19. “Where the senses fail us, reason must step in.”

20. “Certainly it is injurious to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved.”

This story is part of an ongoing series exploring famous scientists. Read more about the greatest scientists of all time:

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