Galileo Galilei was born in Italy 1564 to Giulia Ammannati and Vincenzo Galilei (Heilbron, 2010). Enrolled in medicine at University of Pisa in 1580, Galileo was drawn to mathematician Ostilio Riccci and after attending Ricci’s lectures, ”mastered Euclid’s Elements almost on his own” (Heilbron, 2010, p. 27). Observing his mathematical prowess, Galileo’s teacher supported his transfer from medicine to mathematics in 1583 (Heilbron, 2010). Under Ricci’s instruction Galileo studied the geometry work of Archimedes, an ancient mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and inventor who Galileo considered the ultimate mathematician (Heilbron, 2010). Educated in Aristotelian physics at Pisa, Galileo doubted Aristotle’s principle that heavy items fall faster than light items, instead pursuing his own philosophies (Van Heldon, 1995c). During this period Galileo’s mathematical perspective of motion saw him captivated by a lamp swinging in the university foyer (Humphreys, 1967). Thereafter Galileo made his first discovery—a
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He continued reading and experimenting and invented a hydrostatic balance that accurately measured the amount of precious metal in an item, thus improving on his idol Archimedes’ early work (Van Heldon, 1995a). In 1589 Galileo’s early mentors, mathematicians Christoph Clavius and Marchese Guidobaldo del Monte, were key influences in his appointment as mathematics lecturer at University of Pisa (Heilbron, 2010). During his time Galileo continued trying to disprove Aristotle’s theory on motion, that heavier items fell fastest, by dropping items of various mass from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and concluded that irrespective of weight, items accelerate at the same rate (Van Heldon, 1995b). Later, Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion incorporated Galileo’s theory of falling bodies (National Aeronautics and Space Administration,