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  • Galileo's Battle for the Heavens
    clutching to some ancient model The Tychonic system had been published in 1587 more than 40 years after Copernicus death It was based on the best set of celestial data up to that time The data set was eventually used by Kepler to propose our modern view of planetary motion A measure of Kepler s and Brahe s importance is Newton s high regard for their work The image below is a word cloud see wordle net of references to scientists in Newton s great work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica References in the book s preface were not included Tycho Brahe s model was a hybrid system where the sun circled the earth but the other planets circled the sun The program describes important experiments where Galileo discovers that Venus actually revolves around the sun and not the earth Galileo took this as proof of the Copernican model But this behavior was completely consistent with the Tychonic model as well This fact was lost on the viewers since neither Tycho Brahe nor the Tychonic system were ever mentioned in the program The Tychonic system has a significance beyond the controversies on planetary motion in the seventeenth century One has to ask why Tycho Brahe would develop such an unusual system a Geo Heliocentric model The answer was that he couldn t reconcile the Copernican model with the absence of visible stellar parallax Stellar parallax was an issue for the scientists before and during Galileo s time Modern discussions of Galileo and the church rarely mention this A major tool for cosmology is the Telescope a device commonly associated with Galileo In an ironic twist Galileo s Jesuit contemporaries had made advances in telescope design and construction that would outlast Galileo s own contributions Christopher Scheiner had opted for a Keplerian design of telescope instead of the popular Galilean design This would be the design of choice by astronomers within a decade after Galileo s death Galileo s Battle for the Heaven s does mention Christopher Scheiner but only to highlight his mistake in believing that sunspots were satellites instead of solar phenomenon Modern discussions of the Galileo Affair present a distorted view of seventeenth century cosmology More importantly they present a distorted view of seventeenth century science Galileo was an important scientist of the seventeenth century he wasn t science If we look at who the scientists of the 1750 s were citing in their work most would be surprised Galileo Kepler and Tycho Brahe did not make it very high in the list Galileo s contemporary Gassendi was heavily cited perhaps because he experimented in many areas of physics and also made important contributions to the philosophy of science Amongst the most commonly cited were several of Galileo s Jesuit contemporaries Gaspar Schott Giovanni Riccioli and Claude Francois Deschales 2 Citations by scientists is not a perfect metric for the importance of a scientist but it is better than popularity with public A discussion of Galileo would not be complete without mention of the Tower of Pisa experiment Most people know the legend A young professor from the University of Pisa climbs the Tower of Pisa in front of an audience of professors and students In a direct challenge to the stodgy Aristotelian professors of the day he proceeds to drop balls of unequal weight to show that they hit the ground at the same time There is a growing consensus that this experiment was a myth and the program s website questions whether the experiment ever happened Neither Galileo nor anyone else in his lifetime ever mentioned that Galileo ever performed such an experiment As with many myths there is a germ of truth to the story There is documented evidence of a free fall experiment being conducted on the Tower of Pisa in Galileo s lifetime The twist is that the name of the young professor from the University of Pisa was Vincenzio Renieri an Olivetan monk Vincenzio a friend of Galileo s was not trying to disprove Aristotle He was trying to disprove the work of the Jesuit Niccolo Cabeo Cabeo believed that two objects of different weights dropped from a height would reach the ground at the same time with the same velocity This was based on observing the free fall experiments of Baliani Vincenzio s experiment contradicted that of the Jesuit probably through experimental error and Vincenzio promptly reported the results of his experiments to Galileo Given how often Galilean biographies are presented as symbols of the clash between church and science it is ironic that the Galileo s most famous experiment was really just a dispute between an Olivetan monk and a Jesuit priest Galileo Predecessors Popular Galilean biographies go beyond simply ignoring Galileo s contemporaries They also ignore predecessors In the 1630 s Galileo had devised a brilliant experiment to prove the law of free fall using an inclined plane But what he had really done is prove a law that had been taught in Jesuit schools across Europe for over a half century and one that Galileo had accepted as true for 30 years A Roman Catholic priest Domingo deSoto had actually described the correct law of free fall in a textbook published 75 years before Galileo s famous experiment The popular textbook had gone through 8 printings before Galileo finished university in Pisa Galileo s Battle for the Heavens oversimplified Galileo s inclined plane experiment by repeating an old myth that Galileo had discovered by experiment the law of free fall There was no mention in the program of any preceding work The companion site also leaves the impression that the world had to wait for Galileo to perform simple experiments like dropping balls off a tower There were literally thousands of high towers throughout Europe that would have been perfect for these experiments The picture below shows the view from the top of one of these towers the Torre Asinelli in Bologna For reference the smaller tower seen in

    Original URL path: http://www.scientus.org/Galileo-Battle-for-Heavens-1.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Gassendi's Transit
    telescopes was only twenty years old and a reasonably good clock had never been constructed His observatory was situated in Paris and its appliances were of the most primitive kind By admitting the solar rays into a darkened room through a small round hole an image of the Sun nine or ten inches in diameter was obtained upon a white screen For the measurement of position angles a carefully divided circle was traced upon this screen and the whole was so arranged that the circle could be made to coincide accurately with the image of the Sun To determine the times of ingress and egress an assistant was stationed outside with a large quadrant and he was instructed to observe the altitude of the sun whenever Gassendi stamped upon the floor Modern astronomical predictions can be trusted within a minute or two but so great did the uncertainty of Kepler s tables seem to Gassendi that he began to watch for the expected transit of Mercury two whole days before the time set for its occurrence On the 5th of November it rained and on the 6th clouds covered the sky almost all day The morning of the 7th broke and yet there was no respite from the gloomy pall Gassendi continued his weary watch with sickening dread that the transit might already be over A little before eight o clock the sun began to struggle through the clouds but mist prevented any satisfactory observation for nearly another hour Towards nine the sun became distinctly visible and turning to its image on the screen the astronomer observed a small black spot upon it It was not half as large as he expected and he could not believe it was Mercury He took it fora sun spot and carefully estimated its

    Original URL path: http://www.scientus.org/Gassendi-Transit-Mercury.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Science and the Church:Beyond Galileo
    can cook data Anyone can cook data including historians directors of award winning television biographies and famous authors How can you cook history One way is to completely ignore positive interactions between the church and science in the modern era It would be naive to believe that the church s interaction with science began and ended with Bruno and Galileo Yet many discussions rarely veer from these two historical figures Another way is to ignore major scientific advances in the middle ages a time when the church was a central influence on society This is why the middle ages is more often associated with supersition and alchemy and not advances in physics that helped make the important works of Galileo and Newton possible No one would question that careful consideration of Galileo s interactions with the church would be necessary in a church science debate As with cooking in science the suspicion of cooking is drawn not from what is included but what is excluded Why is the Jesuits lifelong support of Galileo s contemporary Kepler not part of the discussion Kepler wrote a glowing thank you to the Jesuits in the preface of his last published work Abbreviations of the names of three Jesuit trained or Jesuit financed scientists are to be found on almost every consumer electronic device or consumer appliance sold around the world Why are these scientists Ampere Volta Ohm not part of the discussion The priests or monks who founded scientific disciplines e g Mendel and genetics are excluded from discussion There is cooking even when it comes to the discussion of cosmology the only area that got Galileo into conflict with the church It was a Catholic priest George LeMaitre who was the most prominent early advocate of the Big Bang Theory Cooking also

    Original URL path: http://www.scientus.org/Church-Science-History.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Medieval Universities Timeline
    know this because we know that men that are well ahead of their time are typically ignored These men s work was very sophisticated yet found a ready audience Europe had been prepared for their works through societal and institutional changes that spanned centuries One of these key institutions the university had developed over the centuries but maintained many of the structures and procedures that the church had formalized in

    Original URL path: http://www.scientus.org/Medieval-Universities-Timeline.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Galileo and the Elephant
    The same players from the Galileo Affair Pope Urban VIII and the Jesuits were major players in the search for and eventual discovery of a remedy for malaria known then as Jesuit s Bark Pope Urban was the man who made the search for a cure for mal aria a priority He had personal reasons for wanting a cure for mal aria In 1623 just as he was being selected as Pope he was stricken by malaria For months he was too weak to manage the full duties expected of a pope He was one of the lucky ones Eight cardinals from the conclave that selected him as Pope had died from the dreaded disease It is hardly surprising that Pope Urban would seek a cure and instruct the Jesuit missionaries to learn all they could about the medicines in the new territories The search bore fruit very quickly in part because the careful observations of the Jesuit naturalists in the Americas and partly from pure luck Augustino Salumbrino a Jesuit apothecary in Lima had noticed the Quecha natives in the foothills of the Andes using the bark of the cinchona tree to fight off chills The center of the period map below is the area where Augusto observed the Quechas Thinking that the bark might be used to fight off the chills that accompany malaria he arranged for samples to be sent to Rome The doctors in Rome discovered that the bark did more than fight off chills it was actually a remedy for the disease The active ingredient of cinchona was quinine which is still used to fight off the disease The use of Jesuit s bark would spread through Europe and around the world Only a few decades after its introduction to Europe Ramazzini was publicly comparing its importance to medicine with the importance of gunpowder to warfare Jesuit s bark and its derivatives quinine sulphate would help shape the modern world including enabling the European colonization of Africa and the completion of the Panama canal 1 In the Galileo Affair Pope Urban and the Jesuits are often caricatured as blind defenders of the status quo But the proven effectiveness of Jesuit s Bark was a serious challenge to the status quo At the time Galen was to medicine what Aristotle was to physics Galen believed that all fevers could be treated the same way that they were the result of an imbalance of humours and that correcting this imbalance took several months Jesuit s Bark only acted on specific fevers The Bark also acted much more quickly than Galenic remedies The story behind the discovery of Jesuit s bark should warn us against drawing too many conclusions from single events or discoveries A popular parable in several eastern traditions is the story of the blind men and the elephant Six blind men are asked to determine what an elephant looked like Depending on what part the blind men felt an elephant was like a wall from

    Original URL path: http://www.scientus.org/Galileo-Elephant.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Pierre Duhem, George Sarton and Censorship
    Not likely as well Duhem had always been an independent thinker Too independent He had discovered information that was at odds with the accepted interpretation of the history of science Pierre Duhem s meticulous nature had lead him to information about medieval physicists that demanded that a second look be taken at science in the middle ages It also meant that the popular view of conflict between church and science might have to be revisited Duhem had discovered that important advances in the science of mechanics had occured in the middle ages And he could support his discoveries by quoting directly from passages in the original documents In effect he had discovered elements of modern physics in the middle ages He even showed that Galileo had read their work 2 This was a clear challenge to the status quo The historians of the day looked upon the middle ages as a period where nothing of importance in the natural sciences was learned Duhem s discoveries were even more challenging to George Sarton George Sarton was a positivist who equated progress with science And to him it was only science that could produce progress Pierre Duhem s road to being shunned by the academics of the day was innocent enough His early investigations into the history of science were centered around the scientific works of Leonardo da Vinci And it is clear that he started his investigations with the same historian bias that dominated most important historians of the day that important scientific developments had not occurred in Christian Europe before daVinci 3 Being meticulous if Leonardo daVinci referred to a source in his works Duhem would spare no effort in tracking down information about that source And if that source referred to another source he would repeat the process This eventually lead him from DaVinci to medieval physicists that were proposing ideas and concepts that had been attributed to more modern scientists such as Galileo and Newton Duhem was probably better qualified to assess the physics of historical figures than any historian of science of his time or since as he is a theoretical physicist of historical importance His demonstration that important science had occurred in the middle ages was a direct challenge to the positivist historian bias that dominated at the time Duhem may have been too naive to realize this The result of all Duhem s work was relative obscurity for about half a century His publisher Hermann et Cie refused to publish the final volumes of his Systeme du Monde The excuse given was financial hardship The real reason why Duhem s work would not be published was divulged by an insider into the workings of the French scientific establishment the head of the Institute d Histoire des Sciences at the Sorbonne Abel Rey The reason that Duhem s work was not published was not financial concerns Hermann et Cie was being pressured by very powerful anti clerical elements in government and academe not to promise publication

    Original URL path: http://www.scientus.org/Duhem-DaVinci.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Scientus.org - Site Map
    Fathers of the Telescope Jesuits and the Telescope Reflecting on History Timeline of the Telescope Cooking History The Methodologists The Calculatores Medieval Universities Timeline Galileo s Battle for the Heaven s Galileo s Twin Galileo s Predecessors Galileo s Contemporaries

    Original URL path: http://www.scientus.org/pages.html (2016-02-10)
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  • Galileo's Predecessors
    law of free fall in a textbook published 75 years before Galileo s famous experiment The popular textbook had gone through 8 printings before Galileo finished university in Pisa Galileo s Battle for the Heavens oversimplified Galileo s inclined plane experiment by repeating an old myth that Galileo had discovered by experiment the law of free fall There was no mention in the program of any preceding work The companion site also leaves the impression that the world had to wait for Galileo to perform simple experiments like dropping balls off a tower There were literally thousands of high towers throughout Europe that would have been perfect for these experiments The picture below shows the view from the top of one of these towers the Torre Asinelli in Bologna For reference the smaller tower seen in the picture is the Torre Garisenda itself only a few meters short of the height of the Tower of Pisa Galileo was not the first to conduct experiments in free fall Giuseppe Moletti Galileo s immediate predecessor at the University of Padua and the greatest names of 16th century physics Simon Stevin and Girolamo Cardanus see Classical Mechanics Timeline all conducted free fall experiments

    Original URL path: http://www.scientus.org/Galileo-Predecessors.html (2016-02-10)
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