by Sai Praneeth 8A

Galileo Did Not Invent the Telescope

Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian scientist who discovered Jupiter's four closest moons, did not invent the telescope that he used to see those moons. In fact, he just made the telescope better.

Hans Lippershey, a man from the Netherlands who made eyeglasses, invented the telescope in 1608. He wanted to see things far away--on land--so he put existing technology and his imagination together and came up with the telescope.

The Dutch government tried to keep the invention a secret, but it didn't work out [] that way. Galileo heard about it and built his own. Galileo's telescope was three times more powerful than Lippershey's, and Galileo had the idea to turn it into the night sky. And in 1611, he saw Ganymede, Io, Europe, and Callisto--proof that Jupiter had moons and that Earth wasn't the center of the universe (or even the solar system).

The Mona Lisa Is Not Really the Mona Lisa

The famous painting done by Leonardo Da Vinci that everyone calls the Mona Lisa is not really called that. Its real title is La Gioconda.

The woman in the painting was the wife of a man named Francesco del Gioconda, and so the painting was titled, by its creator La Gioconda. It was known for a time as the Madonna Lisa, which probably explains why it has its present name.

Leonardo created this painting over many years, beginning in 1503. When he finished it is debated by historians. During this time, he also was painting many other things, building sculptures, and making new inventions.

As for her famous smile, art historians still debate why she is smiling and what that smile represents. Everyone who sees the painting probably has his or her own ideas.

One last thing: Did you ever notice that the woman in this most of paintings has no eyebrows? It's true. Look closely. Women at that time were considered more beautiful if they had their eyebrows shaved.

Robert Fulton Didn't Invent the Steamboat

The story of Robert Fulton inventing the steamboat and sailing the Clermont down the river for all to see is so familiar to any student of American history that it must be true. Right?


The steamboat was invented by John Fitch in the early 1790s. But like so many other sad stories of the history of invention, Fitch didn't have the money to turn a profit on his invention.

Fulton got into the act at the urging of his friend Robert Livingston, who was the American ambassador to France in the early 1800s. Fulton was living in Paris at the time and designed an experimental submarine. Livingston, who knew about Fitch's troubles, invited Fulton back to the U.S. to try to make the steamboat idea go.

Fulton, himself having a good bit of money and also having rich friends like Livingston, gets the credit but what he really did was make steamboat travel profitable.

[]Even Fulton didn't get it right the first time. The first voyage of the Clermont, in 1807, failed. After a good bit of tinkering, Fulton got the boat up and running, and the little steam-powered floater made it from new York to Albany in 32 hours (at a speed of five miles an hour).