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ssrn-id1021251 - The Trial of Galileo by Doug Linder (2002)...

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1 The Trial of Galileo by Doug Linder (2002) In the 1633 trial of Galileo Galilei, two worlds come into cosmic conflict. Galileo's world of science and humanism collides with the world of Scholasticism and absolutism that held power in the Catholic Church. The result is a tragedy that marks both the end of Galileo's liberty and the end of the Italian Renaissance. Galileo Galilei was born in 1564--the same year that Shakespeare was born and Michelangelo died. From an early age, Galileo showed his scientific skills. At age nineteen, he discovered the isochronism of the pendulum. By age twenty-two, he had invented the hydrostatic balance. By age twenty-five, Galileo assumed his first lectureship, at the University of Pisa. Within a few more years, Galileo earned a reputation throughout Europe as a scientist and superb lecturer. Eventually, he would be recognized as the father of experimental physics. Galileo's motto might have been "follow knowledge wherever it leads us." At the University of Padua, where Galileo accepted a position after three years in Pisa, he began to develop a strong interest in Copernican theory. In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus published Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs , a treatise that put forth his revolutionary idea that the Sun was at the center of the universe and that the Earth--rotating on an axis-- orbited around the sun once a year. Copernicus' theory was a challenge to the accepted notion contained in the natural philosophy of Aristotle, the astronomy of Ptolemy and the teachings of the Church that the sun and all the stars revolved around a stationary Earth. In the half-century since its publication, however, Copernicus' theory met mostly with skepticism. Skeptics countered with the "common sense" notion that the earth they stood on appeared not to move at all--much less at the speed required to fully rotate every twenty-four hours while spinning around the sun. Sometime in the mid-1590s, Galileo concluded that Copernicus got it right. He admitted as much in a 1597 letter to Johannes Kepler, a German mathematician who had written about planetary systems: "Like you, I accepted the Copernican position several years ago and discovered from thence the cause of many natural effects which are doubtless inexplicable by the current theories." Galileo, however, continued to keep his thoughts to a few trusted friends, as he explained to Kepler: "I have not dared until now to bring my reasons and refutations into the open, being warned by the fortunes of Copernicus himself, our master, who procured for himself immortal fame among a few but stepped down among the great crowd." Galileo's discovery of the telescope in 1609 enabled him to confirm his beliefs in the Copernican system and emboldened him to make public arguments in its favor. Through a telescope set in his garden behind his house, Galileo saw the Milky Way, the valleys and mountains of the moon, and--especially relevant to his thinking about the Copernican system--four moons orbiting around Jupiter like a miniature planetary system. Galileo, a
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This note was uploaded on 10/24/2011 for the course SCIENCE PHY 453 taught by Professor Barnard during the Winter '11 term at BYU.

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ssrn-id1021251 - The Trial of Galileo by Doug Linder (2002)...

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