The Galileo Games
by Rick Groleau
A young Galileo is perched atop the Leaning Tower of Pisa. He is in the middle of his famous experiment—the one in which he shows, by dropping cannonballs of different weights, that all objects fall at the same rate. It's the kind of story that's easy to imagine, easy to remember, but whether he ever performed the experiment at the tower is debatable.
Still, Galileo did perform some ingenious experiments on gravity while at Pisa. In fact, for his approach to science, that of using math in analyzing the results of experiments, he is credited with initiating the modern style of scientific research. Galileo is also known for his thought experiments. These are carried out entirely in the mind using reasoning and logic to help explain complex ideas. (Einstein is another great thinker who used thought experiments effectively.)
In this feature, you'll get a sampling of Galileo's thought experiments and conduct virtual versions of his experiments, including those using an inclined plane and a pendulum.