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Science, Art, Philosophy, and Scientific Method
Science, Art, Philosophy, and Scientific Method

Science, Art, Philosophy, and Scientific Method

In the book Galileo Galilei – When the World Stood Still, Atle Naess wrote:

Another important inspiration for experimentation was Galileo’s experience of music. The daily routine of tuning a lute so that its sound was pure, was another sort of experimental trial and error: one had to put more or less tension on the strings, until they fell into an underlying and mathematically describable pattern.

Presumably Galileo’s first inclined planes were rigged up with what looked like a tribute to his father: a copy of the finger-board of a stringed instrument, with thin, movable bands or strings running across it. By altering the distance between these bands and listening for the click as the sphere rolled over them, it was possible for him to gain an insight into the relationship between time and the distance the ball rolled.

The first big problem he encountered, was to measure time accurately. Presumably he first tried to do this by singing. It was not as absurd as it may sound. A trained and skilled musician has a “metronomic” feel for the length of the subdivided beat.

But neither the finger-board bands nor the rhythmics song were completely satisfactory. The bands disturbed the eveness of the ball’s rolling movement, and singing was undeniably somewhat impracticable and imprecise. Galileo worked at getting the groove did the balls ran in as smooth and even as humanly possible. Then he also had the idea of measuring time with a sort of water clock — by simply allowing water to flow from one container, through a thin pipe and into another. If the water flow was constant, he could get a measure of how long had elapsed by weighing the water in the receptacle. The excruciating accuracy that characterized Galileo as a practical man and experimenter was visible in the way he also estimated the weight of water that remained on the walls of the container!


Science works and develops by cognitive integration. It operates in this world, not some Platonic or Kantian “reality” divorced from or separate from the evidence of the senses and from everyday experience.

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