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system of philosophy.—The challenge was accepted The leaning tower of Pisa presented the most conveni. ent position for the performance of these experiments on which Galileo so confidently relied for triumphant demonstration of the error of Aristotle ; and thither on
; the appointed day the disputants repaired, each party perhaps with equal confidence. It was a great crisis in the history of human knowledge. On the one side stood the assembled wisdom of the universities, revered for age and for science, venerable, dignified, united and commanding. Around them thronged the multitude, and about them clustered the associations of centuries. On the other, there stood an obscure young man, with no retinue of followers, without reputation or influence, or station. But his courage was equal to the occasion; confident in the power of truth, his form is erect, and his eye sparkles with excitement.
But the hour of trial arrives. The balls to be employed in the experiments are carefully weighed and scrutinized to detect deception. The parties are satisfied. The one ball is exactly twice the weight of the other. The followers of Aristotle maintain that when the balls are dropped from the top of the tower, the heavy one will reach the ground in exactly half the time employed by the lighter ball. Galileo asserts that the weights of the balls do not affect their velocities, and that the times of descent will be equal; and here the disputants join issue.-The balls are conveyed to the summit of the lofty tower. The crowd assembles round the base-the signal is given-the balls are dropped at the same instant, and swift descending, at the same moment they strike the earth. Again and
again is the experiment repeated, with uniform results. Galileo's triumph was complete. Not a shadow of doubt remained; but far from receiving, as he had hoped, the warm congratulations of honest conviction-private interest, the loss of place, and the mortification of confessing false teaching, proved too strong for the candor of his adversaries. They clung to their former opinions with the tenacity of despair, and assailed the now proud and haughty Galileo with the bitter feelings of disappointment and hate.
The war was now openly declared, and waged with a fierceness which seems to have excited the mind of the young philosopher to the most extraordinary efforts. Driven from Pisa, by the numbers and influence of his enemies, no suffering or danger could drive from his mind the great truths which his researches by experiment were constantly revealing. His spirit was unbroken, and in retiring from the unequal contest, he hurled back defiance into the face of his conquered, though triumphant persecutors.
The mechanical investigations of Galileo, conductea with clearness and precision, soon led to the most important discoveries. He detected the law of falling bodies, and showed that the spaces described were proportional to the squares of the times; that is, if a body fell ten feet in one second of time, it would fall four times as far in two seconds, nine times as far in three seconds, and so on for any number of seconds. He studied with success the subject of the composition of forces, and demonstrated this remarkable proposition, which lies at the very foundation of all modern mechanical philosophy. It may be thus stated. If a body receive an impulse, which singly would cause it to move thirty feet in a second, on the line of the direction of the impulse, and at the same instant another impulse be communicated in a different direction from the first, and which if acting alorde would cause the body to move on the line of direction of the second impulse forty feet in one second, under the joint action of these two impulses the body will move in a direction easily determined from those of the impulsive forces, and will fly with a velocity of fifty feet in the first second of time.
Such is the universal prevalence of this beautiful proposition, that no falling, flying, or moving body, whether it be the rifle ball, the cannon shot, or the circling planet, is free from its imperious sway. Strike the knowledge of this great truth from exstence, and the magnificent structure which modern science has reared, falls in ruinş at a single blow. It is founded in the simple but invariable laws of motion, and while these endure, this elegant discovery of the Florentine philosopher will remain as a monument to his sagacity and penetration.
Possessed of such rare qualities for philosophic'. research, so free from prejudice, and withal, so candid, we cannot but inquire with interest, how the mind of Galileo stood affected towards the new astronomical doctrines of Copernicus. He had early adopted and taught the Ptolemaic system, and his conversion is so remarkable, and is so characteristic of the man, that it cannot be omitted. A disciple of Copernicus visited the city of Galileo's residence, and delivered several public lectures to crowded audi ences, on the new doctrines. Galileo, regarding the whole subject as a species of solemn folly, would not
attend. Subsequently, however, in conversing with one who had adopted these new doctrines, the Copernican sustained his views with such a show of reason that Galileo now regretted that he had heedlessly lost the opportunity of attending the lectures. To make amends, he sought every opportunity to converse with the Copernicans, and remarking that they, like himself, had all once been Ptolemaists, and that from the doctrines of Copernicus no one had ever subsequently become a follower of the old philosophy, he resolved to examine the subject with the most serious attention. The result may be readily anticipated; the conversion was sudden and thorough, the old astronomy was abandoned, and the new convert became the great champion by whose ardor, and unconquerable zeal, the strongholds of antiquated systems were to be destroyed and a new and truthful one founded.
Thus far the career of Galileo in science had been successful and brilliant. He was rapidly rising in
reputation and influence, when a fortunate accident * revealed to the world, the application of a principle
in optics fraught with consequences, which it is impossible to estimate. Galileo was informed that Jansen, of Holland, had contrived an instrument possessing the extraordinary property of causing distant objects, viewed through it, to appear as distinctly as when brought near to the eye. The extensive knowledge which Galileo possessed of optics, immediately gave him the command of the important principle on which the new instrument had been constructed. He saw at once the high value of such an instrument in
his astronomical researches, and with his own hands commenced its construction.
After incredible pains, he finally succeeded in constructing a telescope, by whose aid, the power of the eye was increased thirty fold. It is impossible to conceive the intense interest with which the philosopher directed for the first time his wonderful tube to the inspection of the heavens. When we reflect that with the aid of this magical instrument the observer was about to sweep out through space, and to approach the moon, and planets, and stars, to within a distance only one-thirtieth of their actual distance ; that their size was to increase thirty fold, and their distinctness in the same ratio, it is not surprising that these wonders should have excited the most extravagant enthusiasm.-Galileo commenced by an examination of the moon. Here he beheld, to his inexpres sible delight, the varieties of her surface clearly defined, her deep cavities, her lofty mountains, her extensive plains, were distinctly revealed to his astonished vision. Having satisfied himself of the reality of these inequalities of the moon's surface, by watching the decreasing shadows of the mountains, as the sun rose higher and higher on the moon, he turned his telescope to an examination of the planets. These objects, which the human eye had never before beheld other than brilliant stars, now appeared round and clear and sharp, like the sun and the moon to unaided vision. On the 8th January, 1610, the telescope was for the first time directed to the examination of the planet Jupiter. Its disk was clearly visible, of a pure and silver white, crossed near the centre by a series of dark streaks or belts. Near the planet, Galileo