An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

True or false: Galileo

How well do you know your Galileo? Look at the statements below and decide whether they are true or false. Highlight the text below the statement to reveal the answer.

Those reading in a RSS reader might wnat to switch to the blog post to avoid seeing it all at once.

1. Galileo invented the telescope
False: It was invented in Holland. Galileo did improve it though.

2. Galileo dropped light and heavy objects form the Tower of Pisa
False: his student did.

3. Galileo was the first to claim that the earth goes round the sun
False Copernicus was the first to provide evidence for it. His ideas were elaborated by Kepler. The Ancient Greek philosopher Ptolomy also held to heliocentrism.

4. Galileo was martyred for his science
False: martyrs die Galileo wasn’t put to death.

5. Galileo was tortured for his science
False: He was never tortured, though he was questioned in the presence of torture instruments – common practice at the time. He was eventually put under house arrest and did his best work there he was free to go and visit his daughter.

6. The church leaders at the time refused to look through is telescope for fear it was bewitched
False: the two who did were scholastic natural philosophers Cesare Cremonini and Guilio Libri. At least two priest did Clavius and Grienberger, and they became convinced of Galileo’s position.

7. The church at the time opposed science
False: the Catholic Church was one of the chief sponsors of science. Most of the leading astronomers were Jesuits.

8. Galileo was an atheist
False: he remained a convinced Catholic and regularly attended mass, he was carried to church when he was too feeble to walk.

9. The Galileo vs the Catholic church shows that science and religion are in conflict
False: the issue wasn’t science against religion, it was a philosophical debate – the old 'sanctified' science against the newer science. The new science challenged the dominant scholastic Aristotelian worldview, this is primarily what the 'conflict' was about.

11. Galileo recanted and uttered under his breath ‘Nevertheless it does move’.
False - there is no evidence that he did.

12. Galileo had proved that the earth goes round the sun
False: he had shown that a stationary earth was wrong, but not that Copernicus was correct. Tycho Brahe could explain the data but keep the earth at the centre. It was not until stellar parallax was detected 250 years later that there was convincing proof. Some of Galileo’s proofs were wrong!

John Brooke and Geoffrey Cantor (1998) Reconstructing Nature T&T Clark, Edinburgh
John Brooke (1990) ‘The Galileo affair: teaching AT17’ Physics education 25 (4): 197-201
Phil Dowe (2005) Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking Eerdmans, Grand Rapids
Stillman Drake (1957) Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo Doubleday, New York
Paul Feyerabend (1988 orig 1975) Against Method Verso, London
Arthur Koestler (1959) The Sleepwalkers Penguin, Harmondsworth
Nancy R Pearcey and Charles B Thaxton (1994) The Soul of science Crossway Books, Wheaton
Mike Poole (1995) Beliefs and Values in Science Education Open University, Milton Keynes
Mike Poole (1990) ‘The Galileo affair’ School Science Review 72 (258): 39-48
Colin Russell (1985) Cross-currents IVP, Leicester
Giorgio de Santillana (1955) The Crime of Galileo University of Chicago, Chicago
Marinus Dirk Stafleu (1987) Theories at Work University Press of America, Lanham MD


Radagast said...

"He had shown that a stationary earth was wrong, but not that Copernicus was correct" -- actually, that's not right either.

Galileo showed that Copernicus was right in terms of relative motion (Venus had to go around the Sun, for example), but he was unable to prove which of the astronomical bodies was actually stationary.

His argument about tides was flawed, and (as he himself realised) stellar parallax was needed to clinch the argument.

Today, of course we realise that the Solar System is part of the larger Milky Way Galaxy, which is part of a larger Universe... and nothing is really stationary at all.

Chris Zodrow said...

I'll take Famous Scientists for two hundred please...

All are false statements. Do I get the booby prize?

Chris Zodrow said...

Oops, Steve, truly I did not understand your ingenious way of hiding the answers until after I posted.

Great idea.

Yes, I suppose I do get the booby prize....

Steve Bishop said...

Thanks Radagast for the clarification.

And yes Chris, the booby prize is yours! :)