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In the Western world prior to the 16th century, it was generally assumed that the speed of a falling body would be proportional to its weight—that is, a 10 kg object was expected to fall ten times faster than an otherwise identical 1 kg object through the same medium. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) discussed falling objects in Physics (Book VII) which was perhaps the first book on mechanics (see Aristotelian physics).

The Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) subjected the Aristotelian theories to experimentation and careful observation. He then combined the results of these experiments with mathematical analysis in an unprecedented way.

According to a tale that may be apocryphal, in 1589–92 Galileo dropped two objects of unequal mass from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Given the speed at which such a fall would occur, it is doubtful that Galileo could have extracted much information from this experiment. Most of his observations of falling bodies were really of bodies rolling down ramps. This slowed things down enough to the point where he was able to measure the time intervals with water clocks and his own pulse (stopwatches having not yet been invented). This he repeated "a full hundred times" until he had achieved "an accuracy such that the deviation between two observations never exceeded one-tenth of a pulse beat." In 1589–92, Galileo wrote De Motu Antiquiora, an unpublished manuscript on the motion of falling bodies. - wikipedia-