Galileo’s Daughter Essay

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Last updated: April 1, 2019

Galileo lived during a time of unquestioned church rule; it held the most power and influence over almost every aspect of everyday life.

It had immense control over government, law, and the ruling of a nation. As Galileo found out in his lifetime the church even had control over what materials would be published, in order to rule out those that are unfavourbale to the ultimate goal and existence of the church, as well as enough power to even influence the closest of Galileo’s friends.Two books authored by Galileo, the first frequently referred to in short as; The Dialogue, the second as, Two New Sciences, were at the root of much scientific dispute during his lifetime and the period to follow. The Dialogue compared the Copernican system and the tradition Ptolemaic system of the Earth’s rotation. The Copernican system held that the Earth rotated around the sun; where as the accepted belief of the time was the Ptolemaic system which centered the entire universe around the earth.

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This publication of Galileo’s would eventually lead to his arrest as the church viewed this as heretic, and would add this to their list of banned books. (Sobel, 280) In this book he would answer questions such as “if the Earth really, turned towards the east at high velocity, falling leaves would all scatter west of trees, wouldn’t they? ” To these questions, that were asked of him as they were asked of Copernicus himself, he would answer, now with the ability to peer into space with his newly invented telescope, that “only astronomical evidence and reasoning from simplicity could carry this argument”.Galileo would lay the framework for many to follow. This new understanding of the universe, would allow for the creation of a proper measure of time. This would open the door to allow others to further develop the telescope in order to further prove what Galileo had stated. Most importantly this book brought into question the actions of the church in regards to science. There is no question now that the Earth is not the center of the universe; the churched had to upon enough evidence back down from this stance.This would now allow other scientists the opportunity to explore other, so called truths and miracles as described in Scripture, described to see if there was a Natural explanation for them.

Two New Sciences was a book that covered experiments and thoughts that had developed throughout Galileo’s lifetime. The primary idea presented was that of motion, and understanding it mathematically. As in many of his other writings, he attacks the beliefs of Aristotle, as Aristotle practiced science through reason and not experimenting, and had drafted ideas completely different than what Galileo’s evidence proved.

Aristotle says “that if a hundred pound bowling ball was dropped from a hundred braccia [arm lengths], that it would hit the ground before a one pound ball would fall one braccia”. (Sobel, 20) Galileo would in fact question this belief and test it, by climbing to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and dropping one large ball from the tower and one smaller ball. They would hit the ground almost at the same time, logically disproving Aristotle’s statements, yet many would argue during this time that this proved Aristotle correct and would not believe Galileo’s excuse for the slight difference in landing time as something caused by the wind.

This book would cause one of Galileo’s former students to further look into why these two items would fall to the Earth at the same time. His student, Sir Isaac Newtown, would eventually find this pull on items from the center of the Earth, which would later be called gravity. Galileo would judge “”Two New Sciences” superior to everything else of mine [his] hitherto published,” because its pages “contain results which I consider the most important of all my studies” (Sobel, 326) According to Galileo it is his study of motion and resistance that would far outweigh his astronomical achievements.Yet both of these major accomplishments would change the face of scientific belief and practices. Galileo was a great man, with many great attributes other than his mind. Galileo was a very caring family man. He cared on letters between his daughter Saur Maria Celeste for years, writing as frequently as possible and attempting to fulfill ever request of hers in order to better her life. When she ask of him money for a better room at the convent, he sent it, when she requested for him to ask the Pope for there to be a more religious men sent to give confession at the convent, in order to stop any improprieties from happening, he again obliged.

When “the prospect of the mule trek from his house to her convent, though it hadn’t seemed so lengthy at first, held him back. He decided to move to Arcetri. ” (Sobel, 212) In order to be closer to his daughter he left the home he had loved but was not willing to give up frequent visits with his daughter to continue living there. He made as many of the same concessions for the rest of his children, as he had made for Saur Maria Celeste, and would prove to be a great father.In one of the letters that Galileo’s daughter wrote to him, she wrote “Sire, imagining how disturbed you must be over the sudden death of your poor unfortunate worker”, in reference of the passing of a glassblower, that he had dealt with many times before. (Sobel, 197) This showing how kind and caring Galileo must have been for his fellow man as, this was not a close friend of his, but yet his passing was something that would have greatly affected him. In a letter from the Pope to one of his cardinals he wrote “we embrace with paternal love this great man whose fame shines in the heavens and goes on Earth far and wide”.

Sobel, 138) These kind words were written prior to Galileo’s incarceration by the same Pope, yet it is still a man of high standing stature and moral that would ever had the chance to be referred to in this nature by a Pope.There are many pressures that can aid or hinder in the development of scientific thought. During Galileo’s time he would find out that the church could greatly affect the ability to gain, advance, or teach scientific know how.

If some new scientific knowledge was found to be against what the church taught then it if fact was to be outlawed. Galileo took pains to establish the antiquity of the Sun-centered universe, which dated back to Pythagoras sixth century B. C.

, was late upheld by Plato in his old age… Galileo had good reason to suspect that this theory stood on the verge of suppression” (Sobel, 69) After all his and others’ hard scientific work he felt that the church was going to stop these new ideas. These ideas were in some ways suppressed by the Edict of 1616, which essentially drafted a policy that prohibited; anything that contradicted Scripture or painted the church in bad light.Even once Galileo received the permission to print the Dialogue from the Pope it had to be done in away that it was only a hypothesis and not to be taken as the truth. So even then as Galileo had proof of such an idea he was forced to slow down further exploration of this by making light of the true value of the scientific knowledge that he had acquired.

If at that time he was allowed to print this as it was knowledge rather than a waffled idea, further advancements would likely have come from this much soon than they did. The church also forced educators not to teach the ideas of Copernicus as well as Galileo.When Castelli was instilled in Galileo’s old teaching position at Pisa, he was warned never to teach or even discuss the motion of the Earth. (Sobel, 60) This again slowed down the possibility of further expanding scientific knowledge. Galileo’s thoughts and ideas would eventually be forced to come to a halt when the church not only locked him away in prison but also by the banning of not just the Dialogue but by the banning of all of his works. This was in order to show all those who wish to meddle in such affairs that they would be punished for their ‘heretic’ acts. Sobel, 265) There were obvious other factors that hindered Galileo’s as well as other scientists at the time but most of them would stem from the strong belief in the church and the Scripture.There was little support for many of these thinkers, as the explanation of the world for most people at that time was God, and not science.

At no point was it Galileo’s intention to pin religion against science. “Galileo’s conviction was that God had dictated the Holy Scripture to guide men’s spirits but proffered the unraveling of the universe a challenge to their intelligence”. Sobel, 8) Galileo “dreaded the drawing of battle lines between science and Scripture. Personally, he saw no conflict between the two. He probed the relationship of discovered truth in Nature to reveal the truth in the Bible”. (Sobel, 63) Unfortunately it was not him who could decide whether this battle line would be drawn or not as the church decided to create them. It was not Scripture or religion itself that affected Galileo’s investigation into science but as aforementioned the institution that preached such text and beliefs.

Galileo felt that “The Dialogue resumed his importuning that truths about Nature be allowed to emerge through science. Such truths, he still believed, could only glorify the Word and deeds of God. ” (Sobel, 147) Yet, due to some failing actions to show Pope Urban’s strength to the church during war times, he would have the church withdrawal from their original backing of such a book. Saying now “We think that Galileo may have overstepped his instructions by asserting absolutely the Earth’s motion and the Sun’s immobility, thus deviating from hypothesis”.

Sobel, 225) The book Galileo’s Daughter, by Dava Sobel brought to light many interesting facts about science, scientists, and life in general during Galileo’s time. The extent of which scientists had trouble publishing and practicing science is quite shocking. Not only due to the power of the church but due to the lack of interest from people to see and learn new things. Society at the time seems to have been completely blinded by the church and the apparent literal translation of the Bible.This held such a great power that even with strong proof of certain things it would not change their opinion. More shocking than the belief in the Scripture was the belief in the guess work of Aristotle. As not everyone had access to a telescope, or there was a ‘possibility’ of the telescope creating illusions, it was not so hard to contradict his findings on the Earths rotation.

Yet Aristotle’s ideas about motion were something anyone and everyone could prove wrong themselves but yet they wished to believe this and not the proven truth.It almost seemed as though they did not wish to learn more and were happy living their blissfully ignorant lives. One would have to wonder what modern science would be like without Galileo, as he was the first to apply mathematics to physics. Even more so one would have to wonder what great scientific knowledge was actually found during this time that was never brought forth by its founder in the fear of persecution or imprisonment. The actions taken by the church with out doubt hindered not only the progress of science, but ultimately hurt its reputation and strength.

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