Galileo vs. Newton

The names of Galilei and Newton are known all over the world due to the great contributions they made into development of mathematics, physics, astronomy. Galileo Galilei, being a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and physicist played a vitally important role in the Scientific Revolution. He was one of the first scientists who stated, that natural laws are mathematical. Speaking about the contributions he made into development of astronomy, it is necessary to mention his observations of the moons of Jupiter, which absolutely refuted the assumption, that all celestial bodies revolve around the Earth (Drake, 1998, 17). Galileo was the first one to report about mountains and craters on the moon, which he traced by shadows and light spots on the surface of the Moon. Thus he came to the conclusion, that the Moon was “rough and uneven, and just like the surface of the Earth itself” (Clavelin, 1974, 85). For his observations Galileo started to use a refracting telescope.

Galileo carried out a lot of experiments related to work of bodies and prepared a perfect basis for further development of mechanics by Isaac Newton. “Galileo proposed that a freely falling body would fall with a uniform acceleration, as long as the resistance of the medium through which it was falling remained negligible, or in the limiting case of its falling through a vacuum” (Drake, 1998, 32). In 1638 Galileo finished the method for measuring the speed of light.

Galileo’s approach to mathematics seemed more traditional at that moment, than his innovative ideas concerning experimental physics. In his researches he widely used the Eudoxian theory of proportion.

Finally Galileo didn’t work out his own model of the Universe, but his theoretical and experimental contributions served as good basis for development of dynamics by Newton. Galileo died in the same year, when Newton was born ”“ 1642. Isaac Newton was an outstanding mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, alchemist and theologian. His scientific contribution consists of description of universal gravitation, the three laws of motion, presentation of the groundwork for classical mechanics, which served the basis for modern engineering (Christianson, 1994, 87).  He continued the ideas of Galileo concerning the celestial bodies, adding the connection between the natural laws governing their movements to the theory of gravitation. For mechanics Newton declared the principles of conservation of momentum and angular momentum. When working in the sphere of optics, Newton worked out a theory of color, an empirical law of cooling and studied the speed of sound (Christianson, 1994, 92). In mathematics Newton developed the generalized binomial theorem, which is related to the zeroes of a function. As distinct from Galileo Newton was highly religious, he is said to produce more work on Biblical hermeneutics, than natural science; whereas Galileo had finally problems with the church because his views of heliocentrism led to prohibition of the Catholic Church to advocate it as empirically proven fact and they even gave the order to arrest Galileo.

Overall, we might conclude, that both scientists without any doubts earned their status of progressive figures of the Scientific Revolution; they both used the ideas and achievements of the earlier thinkers such as Copernicus, Kepler, More; “Galileo and Newton principally””as the guides and guarantors of their applications of the singular concept of Nature and Natural Law to every physical and social field of the day” (Bell, 1977, 111). Certainly due to the fact, that Newton lived and worked later than Galileo he was able to use the advantages of Galileo’s studies already, although in general Newton was much more concerned with religious issues, than Galileo.

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