Saturday, February 29, 2020

Review of "Operations of the Geometric and Military Compass," by Galileo Galilei

Review of

Operations of the Geometric and Military Compass, by Galileo Galilei

Five out of five stars

 Galileo is of course a hero to people that respect the process of scientific inquiry and evaluation. It was a great triumph of the human race when superstition and the blind following of imposed dogma was replaced by the organized gathering of facts and the reaching of logical conclusions. This change made possible the great scientific and technical achievements that created the modern world. Despite his great achievements, Galileo was forced to recant his findings and placed under a mild form of house arrest by the Catholic Church.

 When Galileo’s achievements are taught, his inventions are rarely mentioned due to the giant shadow of the Catholic Church forcing him to recant. This book is a description of his invention of a geometric and military compass that allowed for rapid and accurate computations of proportions, trigonometry and mathematical computations such as cube roots. While used for many things, the two primary ones were in surveying and military gunnery.

 The first section is a description of how the compass works in general and the second section is a series of short papers describing specific uses that were written by Galileo. The book is interesting, for it describes the device very well and gives the reader several insights into the thought processes of Galileo. He was an incredibly talented man that did so much to turn society from superstition to mathematical rigor.

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