On June 22, 1633 — 381 years ago today — after a long trial before the Roman Catholic inquisitor Vincenzo Maculani, the sentence of Galileo (often considered to be “the father of modern science”) was delivered. Galileo’s sentence was for his formulating independent, scientific views of how the universe was structured (heliocentrically, rather than Earth-centered as the Catholic Church taught) and for publishing those views. Galileo had built the first telescope to explore “the heavens” and viewed Jupiter’s moons, and so he was the first human to observe that smaller bodies orbited larger bodies in space.
(1) Galileo was found guilty of heresy — for holding to his belief that the Sun lies in the center of the universe and that the Earth moves around the sun. He was ordered to “abjure, curse and detest” this belief.
(2) Galileo was sentenced to prison, but the following day this sentence was commuted to house arrest for the remainder of his life.
(3) His writings were banned — past, present, and future.
Although the inquisitor Maculani had a reputation for being cold and uncaring, he did determine that Galileo was too old and too ill to undergo torture to force recantation of his heliocentric writings and beliefs. Oddly enough, Galileo was a practicing Catholic who believed that the Bible was God’s word, but he just thought the Bible was not a good astronomy textbook. Galileo’s daughter became a Catholicnun, and he communicated with his daughter as his developed his book on the heliocentric universe.
In 1992 — 359 years after Galileo was sentenced — Pope John Paul II, writing in L’Osservatore Romano, stated: “Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture....”
•Galileo — Mini Biography (Bio Channel; 02:51). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2J0-ZbbrD6U
•Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens (PBS Documentary; length 01:48:55). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnEH9rbrIkk
•How Did Galileo Galilei Change the World Today (documentary Science Space History; length 54:52). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQmalmF1bvc
•Great Books: Galileo’s Dialogue (length 51:48). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlYrW8r8eVQ
• The Essential Galileo by Galileo Galilei (Maurice A. Finocchiaro, translator). http://amzn.to/1SDxHSd
• Thus Spoke Galileo: The great scientist’s ideas and their relevance to the present day by Andrea Frova, Mariapiera Marenzana, James H. McManus. http://amzn.to/1IusF3e
Image credits (top to bottom, left to right):
•Trial of Galileo during the Roman Catholic Inquisition. Portrait created in the 19th century by Joseph Nicolas Robert-Fleury. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGalileo_before_the_Holy_Office.jpg
•Maculani in priestly vestmans reading the charges against Galileo Galilei (standing), by Cristian Banti (1857). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincenzo_Maculani#mediaviewer/File:Galileo_facing_the_Roman_Inquisition.jpg
•Galileo Galilei portrait (paint on silver paper) by Passignani. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Galileo_by_Passignano.jpg
•Galileo Galilei. http://mrnussbaum.com/pioneers/galileo/
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