“Imagine a world with no clocks, thermometers, or telescopes. A world where everyone believes the earth stands still as the enormous sun travels around it once each day.” With this opening, I, Galileo sets the stage for the story of the person Albert Einstein called “the father of modern science.” Told in the first person, a blind and aging Galileo recalls his childhood and the way that he helped his father with his musical experiments after leaving the university with no degree. He questioned traditional beliefs and proved that at least some of Aristotle’s laws of physics were incorrect. Looking through his telescope, Galileo discovered that the sun was the center of the universe. It was then that his troubles truly began. For seven years, he was bound to silence about his findings until a new pope was elected and he was allowed to publish his finding. However, when Galileo finally published his discoveries about the sun, the moon and the stars, they so incensed people that he was tried by the Inquisition for heresy. And so the story returns to the old man imprisoned in the walled garden, “but the truth? The truth has a way of escaping into the light.”
Though it took until 1992 for the Catholic Church to admit it had been wrong in condemning Galileo and that yes, the sun was the center of our solar system, Galileo’s contributions to modern science such as the telescope, microscope and thermometer continue to be used today. There’s a chronology of events that occurred during Galileo’s life at the end of the book which was great for helping to put things into perspective as well as a list of some of Galileo’s experiments that would be easy to try at home.
“A person must be allowed to ask questions..and seek answers in search of truth.” What a lovely thought to instill in a child. I hope I’ve been able to encourage my children to ask questions, though sometimes we do get stuck on “but why?” If you’re traveling to Pisa, I, Galileo, is a great introduction to one of its most famous citizens. The Tower of Pisa has been restored and you can climb up to the top (children must be at least 8), though perhaps you shouldn’t try to recreate Galileo’s famous cannonball experiment!
If you’d like to add I, Galileo to your child’s library, click here: I, Galileo