Stillman Drake

Stillman Drake (December 24, 1910 – October 6, 1993) was a Canadian historian of science best known for his work on Galileo Galilei (1569–1642). Drake published over 131 books, articles, and book chapters on Galileo.


Drake received his first academic appointment in 1967 as full professor at the University of Toronto after a career as a financial consultant. During that time he had begun his studies of the works of Galileo and translated Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1953), parts of four of Galileo's works in Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo (1957), and Galileo's The Assayer in The Controversy of Comets (1960), co-authored with C. D. O'Malley.[1]

Possibly his most significant contribution to the history of science was his defense of Galileo's experiments as documented in his published Two New Sciences and in his manuscript notes. Drake showed how the complex interaction of experimental measurement and mathematical analysis led Galileo to his law of falling bodies. Two New Sciences refutes Alexandre Koyré's claim that experiment played no significant part in Galileo's thought by demonstration, for example in Drake's models of Galileo's experiments.

In 1984 Drake was awarded the Galileo Galilei Prize for the Italian History of Science by the Italian Rotary Clubs. The jury was composed of Italian epistemologists and science historians.[2]

In 1988 Drake was awarded the Sarton Medal by the History of Science Society. He spent his entire academic career, beginning in 1967, at the University of Toronto's Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.[1]

Earlier in life, several years after receiving his Bachelor's degree at the University of California at Berkeley (1932), Drake joined several college friends in creating the original version of a board game called Empire in 1938, which went on to inspire Peter Langston to create his computer game of the same name.[3][4]

Selected worksEdit

  • (1949) Book of Anglo-Saxon Verse.
  • (1953) Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • (1957) Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo. New York: Doubleday & Company. ISBN 0-385-09239-3
  • (1973) "Galileo's Discovery of the Law of Free Fall," Scientific American 228(5): 84-92.
  • (1974) Two New Sciences, University of Wisconsin Press, 1974. ISBN 0-299-06404-2. A new translation including sections on centers of gravity and the force of percussion.
  • (1978) Galileo At Work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-16226-5
  • (1990) Galileo: Pioneer Scientist. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-2725-3. ISBN 978-0-8020-2725-2.


  1. ^ a b Jed Z. Buchwald, Noel M. Swerdlow. "Eloge: Stillman Drake, 24 December 1910-6 October 1993". Isis, Vol. 85, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 663–666.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2009-08-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Drake's one-page summary of the rules to Empire
  4. ^ Langston on Empire vs Empire, Peter Langston, 2011-1-15