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Galileo FAQ

Getting some facts straight about Galileo.

James Lattis

on 1 November 2012

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Transcript of Galileo FAQ

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli Did Galileo Invent It? The Telescope... What were the most important ones? Of His Astronomical Discoveries... Refuse to look through the telescope? Did Galileo's Critics...
Lunar craters
Jovian moons
Phases of Venus Was Galileo the First to observe...? Looking at the Sun through his telescope? Did Galileo Blind Himself... Prove the Copernican Theory correct? Did Galileo's Discoveries... Galileo Galilei
FAQ Condemn Galileo because of his Discoveries? Did the Inquisition... Did the Inquisition... Condemn Galileo because of his Discoveries? Did the Inquisition... Torture/burn/excommunicate (etc.) Galileo? Did the Inquisition... from Galileo's Life
and Troubles? What lessons
might we learn... No. Netherlands, 1608
France, early 1609
Padua, late summer 1609 Lunar landscape
Multitude of stars
Nature of Milky Way
Jovian moons
Phases of Venus Cesare Cremonini (1550-1631)
U. of Padua
Aristotelian philosopher

Giulio Libri (1550-1610)
U. of Pisa & Padua Galileo [referring to Libri] to Welser of 17 Dec 1610, in Opere, XI, 14:
"never having wanted to see [the Medicean Stars] on Earth,
perhaps he'll see them on the way to heaven?" Gualdo quotes Cremonini to Galileo:
"I do not wish to approve of claims
about which I do not have any knowledge,
and about things which I have not seen . . .
and then to observe through those glasses
gives me a headache. Enough!
I do not want to hear anything more about this." Thomas Harriot, England, Moon
Simon Marius, Germany, Jovian Moons
Christoph Scheiner, Germany, Sunspots
Benedetto Castelli, Italy, predicted the Phases of Venus Probably not. No. G. was already a Copernican as early as 1597, he says, but a quiet one until . . .
Jovian Moons
Phases of Venus
These overthrow Ptolemy/Aristotle . . .
But they leave Tycho's system intact . . .
And therefore do not prove the Copernican to be true. No. 1609-1611, telescopic discoveries
1611, discoveries confirmed & praised
1616, Bellarmino restricts Copernican discussions to hypothetical
1632, Galileo publishes his Dialogo
1633, trial and condemnation No. Torture was normal legal procedure for both Catholics & Protestants, both civil and ecclesiastical authorities.
Galileo was formally notified that he was subject to it.
When his defense strategy failed, he acknowledged his errors, recanted, & asked for mercy.
He was sentenced to house arrest for life. No. Yes, but not many
(and they were philosophers...) Invented the telescope
Blinded himself looking through it
Proved that the Copernican system was correct
Offended the pope with his discoveries
Painted the Mona Lisa
Challenged a scientific orthodoxy of the Church
Was tortured and imprisoned by the Inquisition Galileo Galilei
The Myth He had reread his Dialogue . . . and examining it minutely . . . he found places in it where a reader ignorant of his intention might gather incorrectly from the force of the reasons given that the Copernican view was true. (Heilbron, 315) Don't assume people won't read your
book carefully, esp. your enemies.
("Did I write that?") "Had Galileo made Simplicio more obviously a stand-in
for his old friend Cremonini, Galileo would probably
have avoided the pope's wrath." (Muir, 44) Don't assume your adversaries are
stupid. (cf. Simplicius-Barberini) Don't fail to be as critical of
your own theories as you are
of the theories of others . . . Quantitative reasoning is very useful
in studying nature. Don't be mean to people.
(cf. Or. Grassi & Chr. Scheiner) "If Galileo had known how to stay on friendly terms with the Roman College, he would be enjoying fame in the world, he would not have had any misfortunes, and he would be able to write freely about anything, even the motion of the earth." Grienberger (reported), Heilbron, 312. Bellarmino was not an Aristotelian,
There was no Aristotelian cosmological orthodoxy before 1616, or after,
Even geocentrists were not a unified school of thought. . . . because Nature doesn't care what you think; and nature didn't care about
Galileo's theory of the tides. History isn't often simple: Thanks! The End 4 in 10 associated "Galileo" more with
wine, fashion, or a ship than with
the word "astronomer." In a 2009 RAS survey
of 1002 British adults . . . Perhaps obvious,
but only in retrospect. James Lattis
Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison (Not to be modified or redistributed without consent of the author.) Did Galileo whisper... "Eppur si muove"
(and yet it moves)
after he was sentenced? It seems very unlikely. No documentation of it.
He had just escaped more severe punishments.
The Inquisition & pope were capable of much worse...
Giordano Bruno, 1600
Orazio Morandi, 1630 Simplicio: I admit that your thoughts seem to me more ingenious than many others [but] I do not therefore consider them true and conclusive; indeed, keeping always before my mind's eye a most solid doctrine that I once heard from a most eminent and learned person, and before which one must fall silent, I know that if asked whether God in His infinite power and wisdom could have conferred upon the watery element its observed reciprocating motion using some other means than moving its containing vessels, both of you would reply that He could have, and that He could have known how to do this in many ways which are unthinkable to our minds . . .
(Dialogo, day 4) They confirm
Vast numbers of previously unseen stars
Peculiar shape of Saturn
Venus exhibits phases from new to full
Lunar surface *appears* rough and irregular
4 objects that are not fixed stars accompany Jupiter 24 April 1611:
Jesuit astronomers
reply to
Card. Bellarmino . . . not long ago a certain instrument was brought from Belgium . . . This instrument shows many more stars in the firmament . . . and when the moon is a crescent or half full, it appears so remarkably fractured and rough that I cannot marvel enough that there is such unevenness in the lunar body. Consult the reliable little book by Galileo Galilei, printed at Venice in 1610 and called Sidereal Messenger, which describes the various observations of the stars made by him.

Far from the least important . . . is that Venus receives its light from the sun as does the moon, so that sometimes it appears to be more like a crescent, sometimes less, according to its distance from the sun. At Rome I have observed this in the presence of others more than once. Saturn has joined to it two smaller stars, one on the east, the other on the west. Finally, Jupiter has four roving stars, which vary their places in a remarkable way both among themselves and with respect to Jupiter--as Galileo Galilei carefully and accurately describes.

Since things are thus, astronomers ought to consider how the celestial orbs may be arranged in order to save these phenomena. (p. 75) Clavius, Sphaera (1611)
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