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A history of violence?


Galileo (1564 -1642) further developed Archimedes' work on forces and loads, and went on to study moving bodies.

In his book Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences, the First and Second Day dialogues are about structures and stability: levers, the uses and strength of beams of different cross-sections. The discussion clearly relates to lifting machinery used in 17th century Venetian dockyards.

The Fourth Day dialogue focuses on projectile motion, and finds the angle giving maximum range for artillery.

What offensive weapons can you think of that rely on a knowledge of lifting and throwing projectiles?

Galileo was also among the first to recognise military as well as commercial uses for the telescope.

Galileo was poorly paid as a university lecturer. An income from the Venetian Doge (elected ruler) as a weapons consultant would certainly have improved his standard of living.

Question: Do universities today pay academics sufficiently well that they are not tempted to do ‘defence’ (i.e. weapons) research?

Next: John Harrison


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