Galileo's Principal Writings

Galileo was acutely conscious of the importance of speedy publication to claim priority for his discoveries. In order to ensure this without prematurely revealing what he had found he sometimes resorted to the device of publishing an anagram. Then, when he had established the new result without doubt, he could reveal the meaning of the anagram. He wrote many books describing his work, some in reply to attacks on his ideas, or wrote formal letters to persons of distinction with a view to eventual publication. Finally there are longer, carefully-considered treatises that deal with a much wider range of material. It may be useful to list his principal writings in order of publication, together with references to available translations.

1. De Motu (On Motion) 1592. Considers the application of Archimedes' principle to motion in a medium. Summarises Aristotle's ideas on motion, with some critical comments. Translated with introduction and notes by I.E. Drabkin in Galileo Galilei on Motion and Mechanics. University of Wisconsin Press, 1960.

2. Le Meccaniche (On Mechanics) 1600. Summary of the statics of simple machines. Translated with introduction and notes by Stillman Drake in Galileo Galilei on Motion and Dynamics. University of Wisconsin Press, 1960.

3. Sidereus Nuncius (The Starry Messenger) 1610. An account of his discovery of the satellites of Jupiter and other astronomical discoveries. Translated with introduction and notes by Stillman Drake in Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo. Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1957.

4. Discorso . . . (Discourse on Bodies in Water) 1612. Describes experiments on floating bodies, with additional remarks on natural philosophy.

5. Letters on Sunspots, 1612. Critique of the views of Christopher Scheiner and a dispute over priority. Partly translated by Stillman Drake (see item 3).

6. Lettero alla Granduchessa di Toscana, Crestina di Lorena 1615. Summary of his view on the relation of theology to science. Translated by Stillman Drake. (see item 3). Finocchiaro, 1989, p. 87.

7. Discourse on the Tides, 1616. Finocchiaro, 1989, p. 119.

8. Il Saggiatore (The Assayer) 1623. Discussion of the nature of comets, and a general defense of scientific investigation. Partly translated by Stillman Drake (see item 3).

9. Dialogo . . . sopra i due Massimi Sistemi del Mondo, Tolemaico e Copernicano. (The Two Chief World Systems)1632. Full discussion of the arguments for and against the Copernican system. Abridged translation and guide, Finocchiaro, 1997.

10. Discorsi a dimonstrazioni . . . (The Two New Sciences) 1638. Comprehensive discussion of the properties of materials and of terrestrial motions.

11. Dialogues concerning Two New Sciences. By Galileo Galilei. Translated by Henry Crew and Alfonso de Savio. Northwestern University Press, 1968.

12. Many letters and other documents are published by Finocchiaro, 1989.


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