Galileo's confirmation of a false hypothesis: A paradigm of logical error in design


Journal Article

Galileo’s classic analysis of a cantilever beam is explicated, and the contemporary persistence of the fundamental error he made in it is discussed. The incorrect hypothesis that Galileo set forth as his first proposition about the behavior of the beam is examined in the context of his pioneering analysis, as is the process whereby the erroneous basic assumption led to a result that was confirmed. The example of Galileo and the cantilever beam is presented as a paradigm for human error in engineering analysis and design, and it is argued that familiarity with such a paradigm among the community of engineering educators and practitioners can help reduce design erors and failures. © 1992, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Petroski, H

Published Date

  • October 1, 1992

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 9 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 251 - 263

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0263-0257

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/02630259208970652

Citation Source

  • Scopus