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Modern Science. Una risorsa per il CLIL di Filosofia in lingua inglese

red - Di seguito viene proposta una risorsa didattica utile per le classi in cui sono attivi percorsi CLIL di Filosofia in lingua inglese.

Modern Science

What the founders of modern science, among them Galileo, had to do, was not to criticize and to combat some faulty theories, and to correct or to replace them by better ones. They had to do something quite different. 

They had to destroy one worldview and to replace it by another. They had to reshape the framework of our intellect itself, to create a new approach to nature, a new concept of knowledge, a new concept of science — and even to replace the everyday approach, based on common sense and experience, by another, which is not natural at all.

 Before Galileo no one had the idea of counting, weighting and measuring the natural phenomena, or to use instruments to measure them.

It was a transition from a world of approximation to a universe of precision. Scientists developed the new worldview creating and using new instruments and tools to observe, measure and perform experiments. Consequently, it became possible to use mathematics to describe natural phenomena and to establish relations and equations among time, space, force, speed, direction, mass and the other categories of physics. 

Since Galileo, scientist adopted the four steps of the ‘scientific method’: 1)observation and measuring of the natural phenomena; 2) formulation of hypotheses; 3) testing the hypotheses through experiment; 4) form a conclusion (law) in mathematical form.


Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy, in 1564. When he was seventeen he began studying mathematics at the University. In 1589 he became a lecturer at the University of Pisa, where he remained for three years, making discoveries that challenged the then-dominant view of physics, which was based on the ancient writings of the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Performing a famous experiment from the leaning tower of Pisa, he discovered that two objects, dropped from the same height, fall accelerating at the same rate, regardless of their weight. 

In 1592, he moved on to the University of Padua, where he would remain for more than fifteen years. He continued to research in physics. He experimented with inclined planes, and formulated the law of inertia, which states that a body in motion will continue moving indefinitely in one direction and at a constant speed, unless interfered with by another force. This law would later become Newton’s famous first law of motion. 

Meanwhile, in the world of astronomy, there was a great debate between the geocentric system of Ptolemy, and the heliocentric system of Copernicus. In 1609, Galileo heard of the invention of the telescope in Holland, and built his own version of the instrument.

He produced his own telescope, which was presented as a gift to the Venetian Republic, which doubled his salary. Galileo continued to improve the lenses, and increased the magnification of the telescope four hundred times. Then, he turned the device toward the sky and began making observations. 

The world of science would never be the same. With this new tool, he observed the mountains and craters on the moon, and discovered four satellites orbiting Jupiter, which he named “medicei” from the Medici, rulers of Florence.

His observations proved that the celestial bodies were not perfect spheres made of Aether, and that some of them (satellites) did not orbited around the center of the universe, but around the planets. In 1610 he published the “Sidereus Nuncius” (The celestial messenger), becoming a celebrity in Europe. 

Using the new evidence provided by his telescope, Galileo now began to support the Copernican theory. The Catholic Church disapproved the heliocentric system, feeling that it was contrary to the statements in the Bible: if God had created human beings as His supreme creature, He would place man at the center of His cosmos. In 1600 Giordano Bruno had been burned alive in Rome by the Inquisition for his ideas.

Galileo wrote the four Copernican letters”, stating that: 1) the Bible does not deal with matters of science. 2) To interpret the real sense of the Scriptures we need to go beyond its literal meaning. 

In 1616 the Church condemned heliocentrism and sent Galileo a warning. Thus Galileo did not publish anything about his theories for the next decade. 

In 1623 the ascension of a tolerant Pope, Urban VIII, encouraged him to write the “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”, published in 1632. The pope had asked him to compare the two astronomical models as hypotheses, but in the dialogue Galileo openly argued for the Copernican system. The Church now accused Galileo of heresy, tried him before the Inquisition, and forced him to renounce his views and submit to the Church. Galileo lived under house arrest for the last eight years of his life. Yet he still continued to write. Galileo died in 1642, at the age of seventy-seven. 

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