Galileo and the Concept of InertiaPerhaps Galileo's greatest contribution to physics was his formulation of the concept of inertia: an object in a state of motion possesses an ``inertia'' that causes it to remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it. In order to arrive at this conclusion, which will form the cornerstone of Newton'slaws of motion(indeed, it will become Newton's First Law of Motion), Galileo had to abstract from what he, and everyone else, saw.Most objects in a state of motion do NOT remain in that state of motion. For example, a block of wood pushed at constant speed across a table quickly comes to rest when we stop pushing. Thus, Aristotle held that objects at rest remained at rest unless a force acted on them, but that objects in motion did not remain in motion unless a force acted constantly on them. Galileo, by virtue of a series of experiments (many with objects sliding down inclined planes), realized that the
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