Galileo Galilei was born on February 15th, 1564, in Tuscany. He almost committed to entering the priesthood. But, under the urging of his father, the famous music theorist Vincenzo Galilei, pursued mathematics. It would be difficult to overstate the contributions he then made to our ability to measure and correctly interpret the universe. Albert Einstein honored him by calling him the “father of modern science.” Galileo pioneered the use of quantitative experiments whose results could be analyzed and replicated as opposed to the qualitative or subjective observations that were in common use. Considering the attitudes of his time, he was extraordinarily able to change his view of the universe based on his measured observations.
On this date in 1633, Galileo Galilei was required by the Holy Office in Rome to recant his heliocentric theories that the Sun and not the Earth is the center of the universe, as they were considered “formally heretical.” After recanting, he was imprisoned. But he was later allowed to return to his home under house arrest, where he spent the remaining nine years of his life.