Cardwell, “Galileo” (Father of the Scientific Method)

Galileo Galilei, a polymath, the father of modern science, and the father of observational astronomy, transformed the course of scientific development and technology. His scientific methods were based on a belief that the laws of nature have an underlying mathematical nature, but their simplicity is hidden from our casual observations behind the complexities caused by local conditions and environment.


Portrait of Galileo Galilei (1636) by Justus Sustermans (Public Domain)

Galileo pointed out the correct nature and use of machines. For ages, people believed in discovering the mechanism of a self-contained perpetual motion machine like nature. Galileo pointed out that the purpose of a machine is not to outwit the laws of nature but to take their advantage. To use the power made available by nature for man’s own purpose and make his work easy.

Galileo quantified the concepts of work, power, and energy. He established the science behind the mechanics of machines. Galileo changed the norm from qualitative to quantitative. For example, people already knew from experience that the force needed to move of a freely suspended body is bigger than the force needed to maintain it’s equilibrium. But, Galileo was the one to indicate that this inequality in nature exists because of the external factors like friction between gears, bearings, and pulleys. If we eliminate these external factors, it will be evident that both of the forces will have equal value. Galileo formulated this and gave the principle of inertia, i.e. the body will continue to be in motion unless some external resistive force work against to stop it.


Galileo also framed the science of strength of materials. He applied his principle of the lever to determine a general expression for the strength of a load carrying beam. Even though he forgot to account for the elasticity of beam material, he initiated a scientific revolution in the fields of technological methods, material strengths, and theory of structures. Galileo’s ideas were worked out to determine the work capacity of machines like water wheel and steam engines. He laid down the foundations of the science behind the technology.

7 Replies to “Cardwell, “Galileo” (Father of the Scientific Method)”

  1. Tejas,

    I enjoyed your summary of Cardwell’s “Galileo”. I found it to be very useful in understanding the physical principles that Galileo discovered. The GIF is also very useful.


    Connor Mackert

  2. Tejas,

    Galileo contributed greatly to the concepts of modern science, particularly astronomy and physics. He quantified the ideas of work, power, and energy; a big step in understanding the conservation of energy and the concept of inertia. Galileo was a truly great mind, a great engineer, a great astronomer, and a great physicist. The scientific methods of Galileo live on and will continue to live on well into the future of science and innovation!

    If you would like more information on Galileo’s interests in astronomy and dynamics, follow this link:

    Great summary and post!


    1. Tejas,
      Great post! Galileo really was the father of the scientific method. He used logic and a process of asking questions to quantify aspects of nature that people had previously simply taken for granted. Galileo was able to postulate forces in equilibrium and of inertia more than 45 years before Sir Isaac Newton published “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica”, which discusses gravity and the laws of motion that bear his name. I find is particularly interesting that Galileo worked to improve simple machines such as levers and pulleys, which people had depended on for centuries previously.

  3. Great article on Cardwell’s “Galileo”!
    Many of Galileo’s ideas and discoveries are very well known to this day. I liked your description of how Galileo quantified the concepts of work, power, and energy and how that relates to mechanics that eventually led to water wheels and steam engines.
    Erica Alvarez

  4. Tejas,
    This is an excellent post bout Galileo’s contributions to science. I feel enlightened because previously I knew nothing about Galileo beyond his research with observational astronomy. Galileo’s law of inertia is a concept that will continue to be used for centuries even as science and technology continues to evolve. The gif is very helpful for those who do not understand the idea with words alone. Galileo was truly an extraordinary man worthy of the title “father of modern physics”.

  5. I want to start by saying that the GIF you included in your summary does a good job at showing you the consequences of not wearing a seatbelt, also the GIF does its job well about showing the law of inertia. I feel you did a good job talking about the important details in this article for example, when Galileo said the purpose of a machine is to take advantage of nature rather than outwit the laws of nature. I also enjoyed you mentioned how even though Galileo messed up on one of his experiments he somehow started a scientific revolution that led to water wheels and steam engines.
    The link above is from Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy and it gives you some useful information about Galileo. A couple things that this link tells you is his scientific story and some facts about his life.

  6. Great article summary,
    I liked how you included his law of inertia and other ingenious ideas that he had. He truly is the father of modern science to this day. I really liked that you explained his concept of work, power, and energy and how that will lead to the water wheels.

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