Galileo: Pioneer Scientist


261 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-2725-3
DDC 530'.92




Reviewed by W.H. Pasika

W.M. Pasika is a professor of Chemistry at Laurentian University.


Using a chronological approach, Drake outlines the tribulations of the
research scientist Galileo, primarily revealing the latter’s efforts
in mechanics and astronomy. Drake’s avowed aim is to counter the claim
of some twentieth-century authors that Galileo could not make accurate
measurements in his studies on falling bodies. Drake attempts this by
examining the mechanics sections in Galileo’s “lab book” in
detail. Since accuracy is in question, numbers and calculations are

Throughout, this book provides insight into what the scientist of
Galileo’s day encountered in his attempt to “do science.” (Seems
things have not changed much in 400 years.) Drake describes Galileo’s
difficulties with the church of the day, which essentially terminated
his career. The last chapter, titled “Galilean Units Today,” will be
interesting only to the aficionado, who will also welcome the book’s
substantial bibliography.

Newton reportedly stated, “I see so far only because I have stood on
the shoulder of giants.” Drake’s book demonstrates that Galileo was
one of them.


Drake, Stillman., “Galileo: Pioneer Scientist,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,