A Glimpse at a Challenging Research Agenda: Galileo to Guidobaldo del Monte in 1602

  • Jochen Büttner
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 335)


In November 1602, Galileo wrote a letter to his friend and patron Guidobaldo del Monte in which he outlined his current work. This letter has received particular attention as it provides the first explicit evidence that Galileo had returned to the question of the fall of heavy bodies along inclined planes, which he had already addressed in the 1590s. As is demonstrated in the succeeding chapters, the considerations explicitly referred to in the letter were in fact part of a much broader research agenda Galileo was following at the time and which has left abundant traces in the Notes on Motion. This chapter rereads and provides a fresh exegesis of the letter against the backdrop of the interpretation of Galileo’s early work on the problems of naturally accelerated motion being advanced in this book.


  1. Biener, Z. (2004). Galileo’s first new science: The science of matter. Perspectives on Science, 12(3), 262–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Büttner, J. (2008). The pendulum as a challenging object in early-modern mechanics. In R. Laird & S. Roux (Eds.), Mechanics and natural philosophy before the scientific revolution (pp. 223–237). Dordrecht: SpringerCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Damerow, P., Renn, J., & Rieger, S. (2001). Hunting the white elephant: When and how did Galileo discover the law of fall? In J. Renn (Ed.), Galileo in context (pp. 29–150). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Drake, S. (1970). Renaissance music and experimental science. Journal of the History of Ideas, 31, 483–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Drake, S. (1978). Galileo at work: His scientific biography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Frank, M. (2011). Guidobaldo dal monte’s mechanics in context. Ph.D. thesis, University of Pisa.Google Scholar
  7. Galilei, G. (1974). Two new sciences. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  8. Galluzzi, P. (1979). Momento. Rome: Ateneo e Bizzarri.Google Scholar
  9. Gamba, E., Bertoloni Meli, D., & Becchi, A. (2013). Guidobaldo del Monte (1545–1607): Theory and practice of the mathematical disciplines from Urbino to Europe. Max Planck research library for the history and development of knowledge sources, 868 Ed. Open Access, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  10. Humphreys, W. (1967). Inclined planes an attempt at reconstructing Galileo’s discovery of the law of squares. British Journal for the History of Science, 3(11), 225–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lima, F.M.S., & Arun, P. (2006). An accurate formula for the period of a simple pendulum oscillating beyond the small angle regime. American Journal of Physics, 74, 892–895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. MacLachlan, J. (1976). Galileo’s experiments with pendulums: Real and imaginary. Annals of Science, 33, 173–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mancosu, P. (1992). Aristotelian logic and Euclidean mathematics: Seventeenth-century developments of the quaestio de certitudine mathematicarum. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 23(2), 241–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Marshall, D.B. (2013). Galileo’s defense of the application of geometry to physics in the Dialogue. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 44(2), 178–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Naylor, R.H. (1974). Galileo’s simple pendulum. Physics, 16, 23–46.Google Scholar
  16. Naylor, R.H. (1976). Galileo: Real experiment and didactic demonstration. ISIS, 67, 398–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nelson, R.A. (1986). The pendulum—Rich physics from a simple system. American Journal of Physics, 54, 112–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Palmieri, P. (2009). A phenomenology of Galileo’s experiments with pendulums. British Journal for the History of Science, 42(4), 479–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Salvia, S. (2014). Galileo’s machine: Late notes on free fall, projectile motion, and the force of percussion (ca. 1638–1639). Physics in Perspective, 16(4), 440–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Settle, T.B. (1966). Galilean science: Essays in the mechanics and dynamics of the Discorsi. Ph.D. thesis, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  21. Settle, T.B. (1996). Galileo’s experimental research (Preprint 52). Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.Google Scholar
  22. Van Dyck, M. (2006). An archaeology of Galileo’s science of motion. Ph.D. thesis, Ghent University.Google Scholar
  23. Viviani, V. (1890–1909). Racconto istorico di Vincenzo Viviani. In A. Favaro (Ed.), Le opere di Galileo Galilei (Vol. XIX, pp. 597–632). Florence: Tip. di G. Barbèra.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jochen Büttner
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations