From Galileo to Navier and Clapeyron

The intuition of a genius versus engineering rigour


Galileo (1564-1642), in his well-known Discorsi (Galileo, 1638), briefly turning his attention to the fracture of a beam, starts an interesting discussion on the beam’s breakage as well as its location. Could the section and breaking point of a beam have been determined beforehand? Furthermore, is it specific to the material? What Galileo did was not merely challenge a physics problem, but the prevailing knowledge of his time: namely, Aristotelianism on one hand, and Nominalism on the other. As a matter of fact, must the breakage of an element be treated as a universal or is it particular to a given material? The present essay aims to prove how Galileo, confronting the structural problem and bringing it into the realm of science, was not just raising a problem but, using Salviati’s words, he also established what actually takes place. Many years later, with the progress of physics, strength of materials and theory of structures, figures such as Claude Navier (1785-1836) and Benoît Clapeyron (1799-1864) confirmed once again that the Pisan turned out to be right. This article intends to combine technical fields such as strength of materials and theory of structures with others like the history of science and philosophy proper. A cooperative approach to these disciplines can be doubtlessly helpful to improve the knowledge, learning and teaching of their different curricula, giving the reader a global, holistic perspective.  
  • Referencias
  • Cómo citar
  • Del mismo autor
  • Métricas
Ackerman, James S. (1949). Ars Sine Scientia Nihil Est. Gothic Theory of Architecture at the Cathedral of Milan. The Art Bulletin, 31(2), 84-111.

Aroca Hernández-Ros, Ricardo (1999). ¿Qué es estructura? Madrid: Cuadernos del Instituto Juan de Herrera de la Escuela de Arquitectura de Madrid.

Cardellach, Fèlix (1910). Filosofía de las estructuras. Barcelona: Técnicos Asociados.

Castro Villalba, Antonio (1996). Historia de la construcción arquitectónica. Barcelona: Edicions Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

Clapeyron, B. P. E. (1857). Calcul d’une poutre élastique reposant librement sur des appuis inégalement espacés. Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des Sciences, Paris, 45, 1076-1080.

Darake, Stillman (1974). Galileo Galilei Two New Sciences Including Centers of Gravity and Force of Percussion. Translated, with a New Introduction and Notes, by Stillman Drake. Toronto: Wall & Thompson.

Galileo (1638). Consideraciones y demostraciones matemáticas sobre dos nuevas ciencias. Edición preparada por C. Solís y J. Sadaba. Madrid: Editora Nacional, 1976.

Galileo (1638). Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze. Leyden: Elzevier Press.

González, José-Luis (1993). El Legado oculto de Vitruvio: saber constructivo y teoría arquitectónica. Madrid: Alianza.

González de Posada, Francisco (1994). Curso de cosmología: física, filosofía, religión. La Laguna Tenerife: Universidad. Secretariado de Publicaciones.

Hawking, Stephen (2009). Galileo and the Birth of Modern Science. American Heritage’s Invention & Technology, 24(1), 36.

Heyman, Jacques (1998). Structural Analysis: A Historical approach. Cambridge: University Press.

Heyman, Jacques (2004). Análisis de estructuras: un estudio histórico; traducción de Santiago Huerta. Madrid: Instituto Juan de Herrera. Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura.

Huerta, Santiago (2004). Arcos, bóvedas y cúpulas. Geometría y equilibrio en el cálculo tradicional de estructuras de fábrica. Madrid: Instituto Juan de Herrera. Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura.

Huerta, Santiago (2006). Galileo was wrong: The Geometrical Design of Masonry Arches. Nexus Network Journal, 8, 25-52.

Jaramillo, H. E. (2011). An Analysis of Strength of Materials from Postulates of “Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to two New Sciences” of Galileo Galilei. Lámpsakos, 5, 53-59.

Marquina, J. E, Álvarez, J. L. (2009). ¿Quién era Galileo? Revista Mexicana de Física, E55(1), 132-135. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Navier, Claude (1883). Résumé des leçons données à l’École des ponts et chaussées par M. Navier: sur l’application de la mécanique à l’Établissement des constructions et des machines (Deuxième édition corrigée et augmentée). Paris.

Ortega y Gasset, José (1965). Entorno a Galileo. Esquema de las crisis. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe.

Pons-Poblet, Josep Maria (2014). De Gaudí a Miralles: cent anys d’estructura metàl·lica a Barcelona. Tesis doctoral. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC).

Pons-Poblet, Josep Maria (2017). El binomio geometría- tensión en las obras de los siglos XV y XVI. III Congresso Internacional do Tardo-Gótico: Da traça à edificaçao a arquitectura dos séculos XV e XVI em Portugal e na Europa. Portugal.

Timoshenko, Stephen P. (1953). History of Strength of Materials: with a brief account of the history of the theory of elasticity and theory of structures. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Valleriani, Matteo (2010). Galileo Engineer. Berlin: Springer.
Pons, J. M. (2021). From Galileo to Navier and Clapeyron: The intuition of a genius versus engineering rigour. ArtefaCToS. Revista De Estudios Sobre La Ciencia Y La tecnología, 10(2), 5–20.


Download data is not yet available.