A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time

by

Stephen Hawking

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Brief History of Time can help.

Galileo Galilei Character Analysis

Astronomer Galileo had backed Nicholas Copernicus’s idea that the sun was at the center of the universe and that the planets, including the earth, all orbited it. This contradicted the Catholic Church’s traditional teaching that the earth was at the center of everything and everything orbited it, which did not go down well. In 1609, Galileo used the newly invented telescope and demonstrated that moons orbited Jupiter, thus proving the earth wasn’t at the center of everything. He also showed that all objects fall at the same speed, regardless of their weight. He rolled differently sized balls down a slope and measured their acceleration. It was the first time anyone had thought to actually test this. Sir Isaac Newton used Galileo’s measurements in his own work. Stephen Hawking said he feels connected to Galileo, as he was born 300 years to the day after the astronomer’s death.

Galileo Galilei Quotes in A Brief History of Time

The A Brief History of Time quotes below are all either spoken by Galileo Galilei or refer to Galileo Galilei. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam edition of A Brief History of Time published in 1988.
Chapter 2 Quotes

The Aristotelian tradition also held that one could work out all the laws that govern the universe by pure thought: it was not necessary to check by observation. So no one until Galileo bothered to see whether bodies of different weight did in fact fall at different speeds.

Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

The Catholic Church had made a bad mistake with Galileo when it tried to lay down the law on a question of science, declaring that the sun went round the earth. Now, centuries later, it had decided to invite a number of experts to advise it on cosmology.

Related Characters: Galileo Galilei, Nicolas Copernicus
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire A Brief History of Time LitChart as a printable PDF.

Galileo Galilei Character Timeline in A Brief History of Time

The timeline below shows where the character Galileo Galilei appears in A Brief History of Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...the center of the planets, to be taken seriously. German astronomer Johannes Kepler and Italian Galileo Galilei backed his theory, even though it was not perfect based on the observable movements... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
The final blow came to the ancient model with the invention of the telescope. Galileo observed Jupiter and found it had several satellites, meaning not everything orbited the earth. Those... (full context)
Chapter 2
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
What we understand today about forces and motion dates back to Galileo and Newton. Before them, people believed Aristotle, who said an object was naturally at rest... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
...we could understand the whole universe just by applying logic, so no experiments were required. Galileo was the first to bother to check out the theory about weights falling at different... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Galileo found that each ball increased its speed at the same rate, regardless of its weight.... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Newton used Galileo's measurements as the foundation for his laws of motion. He deduced that the force (the... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
The main difference between Aristotle's approach and that of Galileo and Newton is the former's idea of the preferred state of rest, meaning an object... (full context)
Chapter 8
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...Catholic Church was seeking input from scientists, centuries after making a bad call on challenging Galileo’s assertion the earth orbited the sun. At the end of the meetings, the Pope met... (full context)