Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences Hardcover – 10 Sep 2010
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About the Author
Galileo Galilei (1564 1642) was an Italian physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer.
Top customer reviews
Considering it was written while he was under House Arrest by Order of the Roman Inquisition and the manuscript had to be smuggled to Holland and printed there it is even more remarkable.
I am a kitemaker and the square cubed law comes into a lot of what I do - imposing strict limitations on the upper limits of size for spared kites as surely as it does on mammals and birds.
Most modern textbooks on engineering are so mathematically complex I get lost around page 5 so it is refreshing to read an old work written in a form that seems as natural as speech.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This book should be read by every serious student and teacher of Physics and Engineering.
This work, "Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences" (1638), is about Galileo's experiments in bodies and motion.
The publisher is not wrong at all in calling this work the given title of "..Two New Sciences". If anything it is Galileo's and his original Publisher's fault for naming both works in such a similar fashion: "Dialogues Concerning Two....." The biggest difference is in the last words of the title.
For those concerned with Copernican/Aristarchus of Samos vs Aristotle/Ptolemaic debates (sun vs earth as the center of the universe/solar system) for which Galileo is known for please read Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (Modern Library Science). Its a good work, though Galileo did mock the Aristotle/Ptolemaic model by using a simpleton named "Simplicio" who was mathematically ignorant to represent Ptolemy's intensive and rigorous mathematical geocentric model. Of course there was no decisive evidence for heliocentrism in the time of Galileo so he should have been more careful. This also is what caused tensions between him and his supporter, Pope Urban VIII who had felt ridiculed because Galileo had put the Pope's views in the mouth of Simplicio. For the details on the Galileo affair, one can see When Science and Christianity Meet which shows the consensus view among historians of science on this.
For those interested in Galileo's physics of bodies and motion and the book which he said, "contain results which I consider the most important of all my studies" then "Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences" is the correct one.
For a general sample of many of Galileo's works and related documents from his "controversy" from those who did the trial on Galileo, please read: The Trial of Galileo: Essential Documents (Hackett Classics). Look also at Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius, or The Sidereal Messenger for his observation on the surface of the moon from his telescope.
A few similarities between both books by Galileo with similar titles have laid confusion to some of these reviewers:
1. as was mentioned, both begin with similar titles: "Dialogues Concerning Two....."
2. Both have the same picture of 3 men speaking
3. There are 4 days of dialogues in both books
4. The same three characters are found in both books: Salviati, Sagredo, Simplicio
These similarities between both books are what makes them so hard to distinguish for anyone who has not read either one of these works. So confusion and disappointment are expected. I too got confused until I got copies of both assuming they were both the same. I wanted a better copy of "Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences" and bought "Dialogues Concerning Two Chief World Systems" since it was cheaper (by very little). I read the Copernican heliocentric arguments that are only found in "Dialogues Concerning Two Chief World Systems" and noticed that "Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences" was different and did not focus Copernicus at all, but instead focused on motions and bodies.
Hopefully this post clarifies and saves people from buying the wrong book. In any case, I say get both books since "Dialogues Concerning Two Chief World Systems" IS notable and important (but not revolutionary since defending Copernicus was not done in an empirical fashion and the astronomical data matched better with the Ptolemy's Geocentric model at that time). "Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences" gives insight to the mind and experiments of Galileo along with his debates on the nature of bodies and varieties of motion.
For those interested in some the works Galileo discusses in "Dialogues Concerning Two Chief World Systems" please look at Ptolemy's Ptolemy's Almagest, Copernicus' On the Revolutions: Nicholas Copernicus Complete Works (Foundations of Natural History), and Aristarchus of Samos' Aristarchus of Samos: The Ancient Copernicus (Dover Books on Astronomy) (he is called an ancient Copernicus by some).
In terms of "On the Revolutions", Copernicus himself dedicated the work to the Pope in the Preface. In this work, he models two different ideas: 1) the sun, not the earth, is at the center of the universe and 2) the earth rotates on its axis. Furthermore, Copernicus' ideas were not novel since he was aware of Aristarchus of Samos' heliocentric model and also other heliocentrists and earth axial rotationists like the Pythagoreans Herakleides and Ekphantus, and also Hicetas the Syracusean. He mentions them in the text. Numerous arguments had been laid out for doubting that the earth rotates in previous centuries, mainly empirical arguments.
A good review of the geocentric-heliocentirc debates is Theories of the World from Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution: Second Revised Edition. The situation was not obvious and both models had their merits and problems. Of course the Ptolemaic and Copernican models weren't the only contest either. Tycho Brahe, a contemporary, had made a "geo-heliocentric" model from his observations which spliced both Ptolemy and Copernicus in an interesting way (both the earth and sun were essentially at the center of the universe). At the time there was no conclusive evidence to decide for or against any of the 3 models. The direct evidences that supported heliocenrtrism came about century or more after Galileo had lived (1564-1642): James Bradley (1725-1729) - stellar aberration of light (implied that the earth rotated on its axis as it orbited around the sun) and Friedrich Bessel (1838) - stellar parallax (the apparent shift of position of any nearby star against the background of distant stars).
Galileo started to compile his most important theoretical findings after he had been condemned to home arrest by the Catholic Church in 1633 due to his support for the heliocentric world system in "Two world systems" (1632). The work took a couple of years. The manuscript was smuggled to Leiden where the book was published in 1638.
In the book, the discussions are held by the same three persons as in Galileo's previous “Two world systems”. This time Galileo was anxious to present his scientific findings, and did not put much emphasis on the discussions. The book is much more mathematical than the “Two world systems”.
My favorites are the chapters on uniform and accelerated motion (especially the beginning of the third day, pages 116-142), and the chapter on the motion of projectiles (especially the beginning of the fourth day, pages 189-199). I enjoyed going through Galileo’s mathematical proofs. At several places, I really had to work hard to follow the track of the proofs.
In mechanics, I was delighted to read Galileo’s thought about the binding forces within metals. He presented as his passing and immature thought that the metals might contain a huge number of tiny vacuums (vacua) (first day, page 15). He was wrong in this, but this does not matter. The important thing is that this shows that Galileo was interested in understanding the phenomena also at the tiniest scale.
Galileo presented clever ideas on the measurement of the speed of the light and on the gravity of the air. He was also interested in the theory of music. All these subjects are discussed during the first day.
I admire Galileo for his creativity, versatility and passion for science.