How Did Galileo Die?

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The Italian astronomer, physicist and mathematician, Galileo Galilei, died on January 8, 1642 at the age of 77 after suffering heart palpitations and a long fever. At the time of his death, Galileo had been under house arrest for 8 years as a result of having held to the opinion that the sun remains motionless and that the earth revolves around it. He was found guilty by the inquisition in Rome for defending the Copernican theory of heliocentrism, after it had been declared contrary to Holy Scripture.

A few years before his death, during his house arrest and only months before he became completely blind, Galileo made his last telescopic discovery and determined that the moon exhibits monthly wobbles on its axis. The permanent services that Galileo gave to astronomy can be summed up in the discoveries he made through his telescopic work. He remained active despite his house arrest and eventual blindness. Despite his loss of sight, Galileo continued to correspond with other scientists. He dictated his ideas on his theory of impact to his disciples until he was finally seized with the illness that took his life.

Galileo’s contributions played a major role in the scientific revolution. He informally described the principles later contained in Newton’s first two laws of motion, and combined scientific experimentation with mathematics. He also performed pioneer work in gravitation and is often referred to as the father of modern science.