(February 15, 1564 – January 8, 1642)
Galileo Galilei is widely regarded as the “father” of modern science. Skilled in maths and physics, his insistence on facts (rather than myths) incurred the wrath of the Catholic Church. But he weathered the storm admirably; thus, ushering-in this contemporary age of scrutiny, research and candor. If all scientists emulate Galileo, then, nothing but the truth would be the lot of science. A young Isaac Newton adored him; and was influenced by his investigative methodologies. He would later describe him as the giant on whose shoulders he stood in order to see farther. Apart from defending scientific facts while risking ruinous consequences, he made other enduring contributions. His experiments in astronomy and mechanics are well-documented. He conclusively proved the uniform acceleration of falling bodies. He is also credited with inventing Water Thermoscope: the forerunner of thermometer. In 1625, Giovanni Faber coined the term “microscope”, while watching Galileo work with a set of magnifiers. And in 1656, Christiaan Huygens developed the pendulum clock after studying his works. Even after 300 years, a grateful Albert Einstein praised him and Newton for indirectly introducing the concept of Relativity. Now, he is revered above all else for entrenching obligatory probity: through careful observations, meticulous experimentations and analyses, as the bedrock of science. A spacecraft, an asteroid and four Jupiter moons are named after Galileo. Also dedicated to him is the 16-kilometer-wide Galilaei lunar crater. Among his proteges is Vincenzo Viviani the influencer of Isaac Barrow, Cambridge’s inaugural Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, who mentored Isaac Newton.