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Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo Paperback – April 1, 1957

ISBN-13: 978-0385092395 ISBN-10: 0385092393 Edition: 24th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 24th edition (March 1, 1957)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385092393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385092395
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian

From the Publisher

Directing his polemics against the pedantry of his time, Galileo, as his own popularizer, addressed his writings to contemporary laymen. His support of Copernican cosmology, against the Church's strong opposition, his development of a telescope, and his unorthodox opinions as a philosopher of science were the central concerns of his career and the subjects of four of his most important writings. Drake's introductory essay place them in their biographical and historical context.

Customer Reviews

These are written in excellent, clear prose.
J. Blilie
Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems would be an excellent companion to this book.
John
It's amazing how brazen present day evangelist hucksters claim the bible is scientifically accurate.
Charles Kristofek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John on May 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo consists of four works by Galileo Galilei: The Starry Messenger, Letters on Sunspots, Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, and The Assayer. They are each wonderfully translated by Stillman Drake. He omits unnecessary parts of the texts, to prevent verbosity or boredom, while still giving the reader the full sense of each work. Drake is a professor of the History of Science at the University of Toronto. Before each of Galileo's works, Drake gives an introduction which details the circumstances and events prompting Galileo to take up the pen. Drake presents an excellent history of the times and atmosphere along with the political forces that permeated the setting of early seventeenth century Italian academia. One gets a real feel for what Galileo was up against in presenting his ideas in the face of ecclesiastical and philosophical opposition.
The Starry Messenger is Galileo's account of his first uses of his homemade telescope. He details his observations of the four newly discovered moons of Jupiter and several stars that can now be seen with the telescope. His Letters on Sunspots are a retort to another astronomer's theories on the nature of the phenomenon. In the Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, Galileo puts up a staunch defense to the church in his adopting the Copernican heliocentric model of the universe. After being banned from teaching this opinion, Galileo makes a suave effort to communicate his ideas in a defense on the nature of comets in The Assayer.
This is the story of Galileo verses old dogma. One cannot help but sympathize with Galileo in his frustration in communicating what he believed to be true.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although the introductory sections are a bit dated, this book contains some of the best translations available of Galileo's works in English. It includes a broad range of his theories (both those we recognize as "correct" and those in which he was "in error"). Both types indicate his creativity. The reproductions of his sketches of the moons of Jupiter (in "The Starry Messenger") are accurate enough to match to modern computer programs which show the positions of the moons for any date in history. The appendix with a chronological summary of Galileo's life is very useful in placing the readings in context.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christine on April 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo is an excellent summary and translation, by Stillman Drake, of Galileo's 4 greatest works, including The Starry Messanger, The Assayer, Letters on Sunspots, and the Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina. Drake presents the words of Galileo as well as his own translations and insights into his life. He not only focuses on just the opinions of Galileo, but also gives the reader information about the viewpoints of Galileo's opponents.

I assume that Drake wanted to tell the story of Galileo in words that an everyday person can understand. By simply reading works written by Galileo, it is not always easy to comprehend the scientific and mathematical language that he uses. By omitting parts of Galileo's texts and adding his own details, Drake makes understanding Galileo's discoveries painless.

Personally, I believe that The Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo is well worth the read because it is educational yet interesting. Although the discoveries of Galileo may seem quite obvious to us today, it's entertaining reading how he came upon such discoveries, which were considered phenomenal at the time. The conflicts between Galileo and the Inquisition adds entertainment to what may seem like just observations and reports of Galileo. Overall, I think most people will be educated and entertained by reading this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Blilie on September 17, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My interest in Galileo was recently piqued by a seminar on data presentation by Edward Tufte (strongly recommended, also his books.) I was looking for an overview of Galileo's work and some context. This book provides both, very well.

The book provides long quotations from "Siderius Nuncius" (Starry Messenger), Letters on Sunspots, The Assayer, and Letters to the Mother of the Grand Duke of Tuscany (whose name escapes me right now.) Preceding each of these exerpts, is an introduction which includes historical information, information about Galileo's personal life, and much quotation from other scientists and people with whom Galileo is arguing. These are written in excellent, clear prose. The stage is set without the stage manager intruding. The exerpts from Galileo have been edited to maintain the focus on why Galileo is important to history and science, without losing his flavor or his pugnacious style.

The point made by Galileo himself and the book are that Galileo pointed out that from then on, evidence would be the standard by which we would judge our knowledge of the world, not authority, word-play, logical proofs or arguments, etc. This is the dawn of the enlightenment.

For an introduction, I found this book perfect. It won't satisfy the scholar looking to read every word of Galileo's. But, as I noted above, this book does show us why we still know Galileo's name, unlike the vast majority of his peers. [edited for spelling]
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More About the Author

Galileo Galilei had seriously considered the priesthood as a young man, at his father's urging he instead enrolled at the University of Pisa for a medical degree.[20] In 1581, when he was studying medicine, he noticed a swinging chandelier, which air currents shifted about to swing in larger and smaller arcs. It seemed, by comparison with his heartbeat, that the chandelier took the same amount of time to swing back and forth, no matter how far it was swinging. When he returned home, he set up two pendulums of equal length and swung one with a large sweep and the other with a small sweep and found that they kept time together. It was not until Christiaan Huygens almost one hundred years later, however, that the tautochrone nature of a swinging pendulum was used to create an accurate timepiece.[21] To this point, he had deliberately been kept away from mathematics (since a physician earned so much more than a mathematician), but upon accidentally attending a lecture on geometry, he talked his reluctant father into letting him study mathematics and natural philosophy instead.[21] He created a thermoscope (forerunner of the thermometer) and in 1586 published a small book on the design of a hydrostatic balance he had invented (which first brought him to the attention of the scholarly world). Galileo also studied disegno, a term encompassing fine art, and in 1588 attained an instructor position in the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence, teaching perspective and chiaroscuro. Being inspired by the artistic tradition of the city and the works of the Renaissance artists, Galileo acquired an aesthetic mentality. While a young teacher at the Accademia, he began a lifelong friendship with the Florentine painter Cigoli, who included Galileo's lunar observations in one of his paintings.[22][23]

In 1589, he was appointed to the chair of mathematics in Pisa. In 1591 his father died and he was entrusted with the care of his younger brother Michelagnolo. In 1592, he moved to the University of Padua, teaching geometry, mechanics, and astronomy until 1610.[24] During this period Galileo made significant discoveries in both pure fundamental science (for example, kinematics of motion and astronomy) as well as practical applied science (for example, strength of materials and improvement of the telescope). His multiple interests included the study of astrology, which at the time was a discipline tied to the studies of mathematics and astronomy.[25]

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Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo
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