A group of Florentine Aristotelians led by Lodovico delle Colombe managed to engage Galileo in an argument on floating. According to their descriptive physics, the different behaviour of bodies in water depended on their different shapes. To this concept Galileo opposed Archimedes’ hydrostatic laws, based on differences in specific weight, an idea extraneous to the Aristotelian tradition. With the Discorso intorno alle cose che stanno in su l’acqua e che in quella si muovono [Discourse on floating bodies] Galileo hoped to put an end to the clashing encounters, defections and public demonstrations on this subject. These arguments, although based on theoretical differences of opinion, were tainted with provocation, personal envy and his adversaries’ attempts at self-aggrandizement. However, the controversy went on for years to come. It was settled only in 1615 with a Risposta [Reply] signed by Benedetto Castelli (who had sided with his master in the argument since the beginning) to the last two pamphlets written against Galileo on the subject of floating objects.
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