Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20060207093204/http://www.rit.edu/~flwstv/galileo.html
This is an archived page. The links may no longer work..
Prof. Fred L. Wilson
Rochester Institute of Technology
Teaching at RIT
HISTORY OF SCIENCE
17. Galileo and the Rise of Mechanism
If science has a beginning date, it must be 1632 when the Italian
astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei, published his book, Dialogue
on the Two Systems of the World [Note
1] All the previous work, all the observations, theory, and
fighting against dogmatic concepts were brought together by Galileo.
The Greeks, by and large, had been satisfied to accept the "obvious"
facts of nature as starting points for their reasoning. Aristotle was
quite content to use reason to argue that the heavier stone would fall
faster than the lighter stone because it "wanted" to be in its proper
place more than the lighter stone. Given his organic reasoning, it
would not have occurred to him to test the "obvious." To the Greeks,
experimentation seemed irrelevant. It interfered with and detracted
from the beauty of pure deduction. Besides, if an experiment disagreed
with a deduction, could one be certain that the experiment was correct?
Was it likely that the imperfect world of reality would agree
completely with the perfect world of abstract ideas; and if it did not,
ought one to adjust the perfect to the demands of the imperfect? To
test a perfect theory with imperfect instruments did not impress the
Greek philosophers as a valid way to gain knowledge.
Experimentation began to become philosophically respectable in Europe
with the support of such philosophers as the English Scholar Roger
Bacon (c. 1220 - c. 1292, a contemporary of Thomas
Aquinas) and the later English philosopher Francis Bacon
But it was Galileo who overthrew the Greek view and effected the
revolution. He was a convincing logician and a genius as a publicist.
He described his experiments and his point of view so clearly and so
dramatically that he won over the European learned community. And they
accepted his methods along with his results.
Galileo is universally known by his first name only, his full name
being Galileo Galilei. The form of the name arose from a Tuscan habit
of using a variation of the last name for the first name of the oldest
son. He was born three days before Michelangelo died; a kind of
symbolic passing of the palm of learning from the fine arts to science.
Galileo was destined by his father, a mathematician of a onetime
wealthy but now run-down family, to the study of medicine and was
deliberately kept away from mathematics. In those days (and perhaps in
these) a physician earned thirty times a mathematician's salary.
Galileo would undoubtedly have made a good physician, as he might also
have made a good artist or musician, for he was a true Renaissance man,
with many talents.
However, fate took its own turning and the elder Galilei might as well
have saved himself the trouble. The young student, through accident,
happened to hear a lecture on geometry and then, pursuing the subject
further, came upon the works of Archimedes. He promptly talked his
reluctant father into letting him study mathematics and science.
This was fortunate for the world, for Galileo's career was a major
turning point in science. He was not content merely to observe; he
searched for a crucial experiment that would demonstrate his theories.
He began to measure, to reduce things to quantity, to see if he could
not derive some mathematical relationship that would describe a
phenomenon with simplicity and generality. He was not the first to do
this, for it had been done even by Archimedes (whom Galileo
extravagantly admired) eighteen centuries before. What's more, Galileo
was not really a thoroughgoing experimenter compared with those who
were to follow, and he still retained a great deal of the Greek
tendency to theorize.
Nevertheless, Galileo made experimentation attractive. For one thing,
he had the literary ability (another talent) to describe his
experiments and theories so clearly and beautifully that he made his
quantitative method famous and fashionable.
The first of his startling discoveries took place in 1581, when he was
a teenager studying medicine at the University of Pisa. Attending
services at the Cathedral of Pisa, he found himself watching a swinging
chandelier, which air currents shifted now in wide arcs, now in small
ones. To Galileo's quantitative mind, it seemed that the time of swing
was the same, regardless of the amplitude. He tested this by his
pulsebeat. Then, upon returning home, he set up two pendulums of equal
length and swung one in larger, one in smaller sweeps. They kept
together and he found he was correct.
(In later experiments, Galileo was to find that the difficulty of
accurately measuring small intervals of time was his greatest problem.
He had to continue using his pulse, or to use the rate at which water
trickled through a small orifice and accumulated in a receiver. It is
ironic then, that after Galileo's death the Dutch physicist and
astronomer, Christiaan Huygens was to use the principle of the
pendulum, discovered by Galileo, as the means by which to regulate a
clock, thus solving the problem Galileo himself could not. Galileo also
attempted to measure temperature, devising a thermoscope for the
purpose in 1593. This was a gas thermometer which measured temperature
by the expansion and contraction of gas. It was grossly inaccurate and
not until the time of the French physicist, Guillaume Amontons, a
century later, was a reasonable beginning made in thermometry. It
should never be forgotten that the rate of advance of science depends a
great deal on advances in techniques of measurement.)
In 1586 Galileo published a small booklet on the design of a
hydrostatic balance he had invented and this first brought him to the
attention of the scholarly world.
Galileo began to study the behavior of falling bodies. Virtually all
scholars still followed the belief of Aristotle that the rate of fall
was proportional to the weight of the body. This, Galileo showed, was a
conclusion erroneously drawn from the fact that air resistance slowed
the fall of light objects that offered comparatively large areas to the
air. (Leaves, feathers, and snowflakes are examples.) Objects that were
heavy enough and compact enough to reduce the effect of air resistance
to a quantity small enough to be neglected, fell at the same rate.
Galileo conjectured that in a vacuum all objects would fall at the same
rate. (A good vacuum could not be produced in his day, but when it
finally was, Galileo was proved to be right.)
Legend has it that Galileo tested Aristotle's theories of falling
bodies a demonstation that all Europe could hear. He is supposed to
have climbed to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and simultaneously
dropped two cannon balls, one ten times heavier than the other. The
thump of the two balls hitting the ground in the same split second
killed Aristotelian physics. This seems to be nothing more than legend
but a similar experiment was actually formed, or at least described,
some years earlier by the Belgian-Dutch mathematician, Simon Stevinus.
But the story is so typical of Galileo's dramatic methods that it is no
wonder it has been widely believed through the centuries.
Galileo undeniably did roll balls down inclined planes and measured the
distance that they traveled in given times. He was the first to conduct
time experiments and to use measurement in a systematic way. Since his
methods for measuring time weren't accurate enough to follow the rate
of motion of a body in free fall, he "diluted" gravity by allowing a
body to roll down an inclined plane. By making the slope of the
inclined plane a gentle one, he could slow the motion as much as he
wished. It was then quite easy to show that the rate of fall of a body
was quite independent of its weight.
He was also able to show that a body moved along an inclined plane at a
constantly accelerating velocity; that is, it moved more and more
quickly. Leonardo da Vinci had noted this a century earlier but had
kept it to himself. This settled an important philosophic point.
Aristotle had held that in order to keep a body moving, a force had to
be continually applied. From this it followed, according to some
medieval philosophers, that the heavenly bodies, which were continually
moving, had to be pushed along by the eternal labors of angels. A few
even used such arguments to deduce the existence of God. On the other
hand, some philosophers of the late Middle Ages, such as the French
philosopher, Jean Buridan (c.1300-c.1385) held that constant motion
required no force after the initial impulse. By that view God in
creating the world could have given it a start and then let it run by
itself forever after. If a continuous force were
applied, said these philosophers, the resulting motion would become
ever more rapid. Galileo's experiments decided in favor of this second
view and against Aristotle. Not only did the velocity of a falling ball
increase steadily with time under the continuous pull of the earth, but
the total distance it covered increased as the square of the time.
He also showed that a body could move under the influence of two forces
at one time. One force, applying an initial force horizontally (as the
explosion of a gun), could keep a body moving horizontally at a
constant velocity. Another force, applied constantly in a vertical
direction, could make the same body drop downward at an accelerated
velocity. The two motions superimposed would cause the body to follow a
parabolic curve. In this way Galileo was able to make a science out of
This concept of one body influenced by more than one force also
explained how it was that everything on the surface of the earth,
including the atmosphere, birds in flight, and falling stones, could
share in Earth's rotation and yet maintain their superimposed motions.
This disposed of one of the most effective arguments against the
theories of Copernicus and showed that one need not fear that the
turning and revolving earth would leave behind those objects not firmly
attached to it.
Galileo's proofs were all reached by the geometric methods of the
Greeks. The application of algebra to geometry and the discovery of
infinitely more powerful methods of mathematical analysis than those at
Galileo's disposal had to await the French philosopher and
mathematician, RenŽ Descartes (1596-1650), and the English physicist
and mathematician, Isaac
Newton. Yet Galileo made do with what he had and his
discoveries marked the beginning of the science of mechanics and served
as the basis a century later for the three laws of motion propounded by
In his book on mechanics Galileo also dealt with the strength of
materials, founding that branch of science as well. He was the first to
show that if a structure increased in all dimensions equally, it would
grow weaker -- at least he was the first to explain the theoretical
basis for this. This is what is now known as the square-cube law. The
volume increases as the cube of linear dimensions but the strength only
as the square. For that reason larger animals require proportionally
sturdier supports than small ones. A deer expanded to the size of an
elephant and kept in exact proportion would collapse. Its legs would
have to be thickened out of proportion for proper support.
The success of Galileo and his successors, particularly Newton, in
accounting for motion by pushes and pulls ("forces") gave rise to the
thought that everything in the universe capable of measurement could be
explained on the basis of pushes and pulls no more complicated in
essence than the pushes and pulls of levers and gears within a machine.
This mechanistic view of the universe was to gain favor until a new
revolution in science three centuries after Galileo showed matters to
be rather more complicated than the mechanists had assumed.
Yet Galileo was reluctant to denounce Aristotelian physics too
publicly. He waited for a safe opportunity to do so and this came with
the nova of 1604 (the one usually associated with Johann
Kepler), Galileo used the nova to argue against the
Aristotelian notion of the immutability of the heavens and, by
implication, against the Aristotelian view generally.
Galileo's work made him unpopular at Pisa and he moved to a better
position at Padua, in Venetian territory. (Venice was a region of
considerable intellectual freedom at that time.) The new position paid
three times the salary of the old one -- though Galileo lived gaily and
generously and was always in debt anyway. He was always in trouble,
too, for he made himself unpopular with influential people. He had a
brilliant and caustic wit and he could not resist using that wit to
make jackasses -- and therefore bitter enemies -- of those who
disagreed with him. Even as a college student, he had been nicknamed
"the wrangler" because of his argumentativeness and nonconformity. He
even refused to wear academic robes, though this cost him several
fines. Besides he was so brilliant a lecturer that students flocked to
hear him, coming in numbers as high as two thousand, according to a
possibly exaggerated report, while his colleagues mumbled away in empty
halls, and nothing will infuriate colleagues more than that.
In Padua, Galileo was corresponding with Kepler, and in this
correspondence he admitted, as early as 1597, that he had come to
believe in the theories of Copernicus,
though he prudently refrained for a while from saying so publicly. The
execution of Giordano
Bruno in 1600 must have encouraged Galileo to continue
In 1609, however, he heard that a magnifying tube, making use of
lenses, had been invented in Holland. Before six months had passed,
Galileo had devised his own version of the instrument, one that had a
magnifying power of thirty-two. He could adjust it in reverse, to serve
as a microscope, and he observed insects by this means. However, it was
as a telescope that he made best use of it. He turned it on the
heavens. Thus began the age of telescopic astronomy.
Using his telescope Galileo found that the moon had mountains and the
sun had spots, which showed once again that Aristotle
was wrong in his thesis that the heavens were perfect and that only on
earth was there irregularity and disorder. Tycho
Brahe had already done that in his studies on his nova and
his comet, and David Fabricius had done it in his studies of a variable
star, but Galileo's findings attacked the sun itself.
Other astronomers discovered the sunspots at almost the same time as
Galileo -- for indeed, very large spots can sometimes be made out with
the naked eyes of those foolish enough to stare at the sun -- and there
was wrangling over priority, which made Galileo additional enemies.
Galileo, however, whether he had priority in the discovery or not, did
more than merely see the spots. He used them to show that the sun
rotated about its axis in twenty-seven days, by following individual
spots around the sun. He even determined the orientation of the sun's
axis in that fashion. Nor did Galileo get off scot-free. His studies of
the sun damaged his eyes, which had already suffered from infections in
his youth, and in old age he went blind.
The stars, even the bright ones, remained mere dots of light in the
telescope, while the planets showed as little globes. Galileo deduced
from this that the stars must be much farther away than the planets and
that the universe might be indefinitely large. He also found that there
we many stars in existence that could be seen by telescope but not by
naked eye. The Milky Way itself owed its luminosity to the fact that it
was composed of myriads of such stars.
More dramatically, he found that Jupiter was attended by four
subsidiary bodies, visible only by telescope, that circled it
regularly. Within a few weeks of observation he was able to work out
the periods of each. Kepler
gave these latter bodies the name of satellites and they are still
known as the Galilean satellites. They are known singly by the
mythological names of Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Jupiter with
its satellites was a model of a Copernican system -- small bodies
circling a large one. It was definite proof that not all astronomical
bodies circled the earth.
Galileo observed that Venus showed phases entirely like those of the
moon from full to crescent, which it must do if the Copernican theory
was correct. According to the Ptolemaic theory Venus would have to be a
perpetual crescent. The discovery of the phases of Venus definitely
demonstrated, by the way, the fact that planets shine by reflected
sunlight. Galileo discovered that the night side (that is, the dark
portion) of the moon when the moon was less than full had a dim glow,
which he explained as caused by light shining upon it from Earth
("earthshine"). It had been seen before but had been explained
otherwise. Poseidonius thought it was sunlight shining through a partly
transparent moon. Reinhold thought the moon's surface was
phosphorescent. Earthshine showed that Earth like the planets, gleamed
in the Sun, and removed one more point of difference between Earth and
the heavenly bodies.
All these telescopic discoveries meant the final establishment of
Copernicanism more than half a century after Copernicus had published
Galileo announced his discoveries in special numbers of a periodical he
called Siderus Nuncius ("Starry Messenger")
and these aroused both great enthusiasm and profound anger. Aged
Venetian aristocrats clambered to the top of a tower in order to look
through one of his telescopes and see ships, otherwise invisible, far
out at sea. He was the best lensmaker in Europe at the time and built a
number of telescopes. He sent them all over Europe (one reaching
Kepler) so that others might confirm his findings. Both Venice and
Florence offered him lucrative positions. To the annoyance of the
Venetians, Galileo chose to travel to his beloved Florence.
Galileo visited Rome in 1611, where he was greeted with honor and
delight, though not everyone was happy. The thought of imperfect
heavens, of invisible objects shining there, and, worst of all, of the
Copernican system enthroned and Earth demoted from its position as
center of the universe was most unsettling. Galileo also rather
unwisely ventured to write a book giving his views on the bible and
generally discussing theological subjects to the offense of
theologians. Galileo's conservative opponents persuaded Pope Pius V to
declare Copernicanism a heresy, and Galileo was forced into silence in
Intrigue continued. Now Galileo's friends, now his enemies seemed to
have gained predominance. In 1632 Galileo was somehow persuaded that
the Pope then reigning (Urban VIII) was friendly and would let him
speak out. He therefore published his masterpiece, Dialogue
on the Two Chief World Systems, in which he had two
people, one representing the view of Ptolemy and other the view of
Copernicus, present their arguments before an intelligent layman.
Amazingly enough, despite his long friendship with Kepler, Galileo did
not mention Kepler's modification of Copernicus' theory, a modification
which improved it beyond measure -- but then, Kepler's work was
appreciated by virtually no one at the time.
Galileo of course gave the Copernican the brilliant best of the battle.
The Pope was persuaded that Simplico, the character who upheld the
views of Ptolemy in the book, was a deliberate and insulting caricature
of himself. The book was all the more damaging to those who felt
themselves insulted, because it was written in vigorous Italian for the
general public (and not merely for the Latin-learned scholars) and was
quickly translated into other languages -- including Chinese!
Galileo was brought before the Inquisition on charges of heresy (his
indiscreet public statements made it easy to substantiate the charge)
and on June 22, 1633, was forced to renounce any views that were at
variance with the Ptolemaic system. Romance might have required a
heroic refusal to capitulate, but Galileo was nearly seventy and he had
the example of Bruno to urge him to caution. He recanted and was
condemned to a penance of psalm recitations each week for three years
-- and, of course, to refrain from further heresy.
Legend has it that when he rose from his knees, having completed his
renunciation, he muttered "Eppur si muove!" ("And yet it moves,"
referring to Earth.) This was indeed the verdict given by the world of
scholarship, and the silencing of Galileo for the remaining few years
of his old age (during which -- in 1637 -- he made his last
astronomical discovery, that of the slow swaying or "libration" of the
moon as it revolves) was an empty victory for the conservatives. When
he died they won an even shallower victory by refusing him burial in
The Scientific Revolution begun with Copernicus had been opposed for
nearly a century at the time of Galileo's trial, but by then the fight
was lost. The Revolution not only existed, but had prevailed, although,
to be sure, there remained pockets of resistance. Harvard, in the year
of its founding (1636), remained firmly committed to the Ptolemaic
Galileo's Dialogue was not removed from the
Catholic "Index of Prohibited Books" until 1835. In 1965, Pope Paul VI,
on a visit to Pisa, spoke highly of Galileo -- an even clearer
admission that on this issue the Church had been in the wrong.
Galileo was truly a revolutionary, but his revolution was not his
advances in mathematics, instrumentation, nor in his experiments. His
revolution consisted in elevating "induction" above deduction as the
logical method of science. Instead of building conclusions on an
assumed set of generalizations, the inductive method starts with
observations. The careful and precise recording of these observations
leads to giving names to the things observed. Names are given to the
"observables" and various methods are used to manipulate them to find
correlations between what is observed. Mathematics is a powerful tool
of logic, but not the only one, for finding these correlations. In the
next step, generalizations are derived from the coorelated data from
observations. Of course, even the Greeks obtained their axioms from
observation; Euclid's axiom that a straight line is the shortest
distance between two points was an intuitive judgment based on
experience. But whereas the Greek philosopher minimized the role played
by induction, the modern scientist looks on induction as the essential
process of gaining knowledge, the only way of justifying
generalizations. Moreover, the scientist realizes that no
generalization can be allowed to stand unless it is repeatedly tested
by newer and still newer experiments -- the continuing test of further
Lacking sufficient proof, the mechanical concept of the universe was at
that time mostly a creed that echoed the Archimedean motto in a
mechanistic phrasing, "give me matter and motion and I will construct
the universe." Such a program undoubtedly rested on tremendous
convictions if not extraordinary ambitions. The clinching proofs of the
mechanical philosophy were still far away. Little if any had yet been
realized of the great promise of the mechanical creed, namely, the
prediction by mathematics of all future events that were to take place
in the physical universe. Ambitious programs had, of course, been given
publicity by their authors. Galileo, making the most of the
extraordinary impact of his Starry Messenger,
wrote at length to the secretary of state of the Tuscan court,
Belisario Vinta, about his scientific program that was centered on
mechanics. As the letter stated, Galileo planned "three books on local
motion...three books on mechanics, two relating to demonstrations of
its principles, and one concerning its problems." Actually, of all his
contemporaries, he alone lived up to the boastful self-appraisal so
fashionable in his day:
Though other men have
written on this subject what has been is not one-quarter of what I
write, either in quantity or otherwise. [Note
The Mechanics of Galileo,
printed in 1634 on Mersenne's order, fell far short of this goal. What
was to become Galileo's decisive contribution to mechanics had emerged
from his studies on local motion. The Discourses on Two
New Sciences intimated for the first time what a book on
physics ought to be: a sober, mathematical analysis of experiments
followed by deductions. Partial as was Galileo's achievement in
mechanics, what he produced was a foundation on which following
generations securely built.
This was not the case with most of Descartes'
dicta in physics. In fact, as W. Whewell put it long ago:
the mechanical truths which were easily attainable in the begriming of
the seventeenth century, Galileo took hold of as many, and Descartes of
as few, as was well possible for a man of genius. [Note
The reason for this
rested no doubt on Descartes' unbounded faith in his own version of
mechanics that, while expressing well some basic points, glossed
readily over details. In his physical universe there were only bodies
and motion, and he restricted, at least in principle, his ambitious
program of physics to the consideration of an "infinity of motions that
last forever in the world." [Note 4]
of the quantity of the total sum of these motions he clearly stated
that it could not be diminished or lost. [Note
5] Furthermore, in a passage that in spite of its brevity
strikingly anticipates the image of the all-knowing spirit described by
Laplace, he argued that "if somebody were to know perfectly what are
the small particles of all bodies and what are their movements and
their relative positions, he would perfectly know the whole nature." [Note 6].
Also, it must be
admitted that his writings on physics were in full conformity with his
basic tenet rejecting firmly the major preoccupation of organismic
physics -- the interpretation of physical processes and laws in terms
of teleology. "We shall adopt," he wrote, "no opinions whatever about
the goals that either God or nature might have set for themselves in
producing the things of nature, because we should not arrogantly claim
to be privy to their counsels." [Note 8].
This would have been the correct explanation of the differences between
rules and observed facts had the experiments been carried out in such a
way as to approximate gradually the ideal case with the elimination of
disturbing factors, such as resistance. Descartes' faith in mechanism,
however, had too many a priori features to permit him to see the
crucial need in physics of approximating on the experimental level the
ideal conditions in which certain physical phenomena might take place.
Descartes' mechanistic explanations did not always have enough respect
for the actual way things happened. Explaining the refraction of light
by analogy with bouncing balls, Descartes satisfied only the
shibboleths of mechanism by using the figure of a hefty tennis player
in the illustration of the problem in his La Dioptrique
[Note 9]; the ball, supposedly
having a lesser velocity in the denser medium, was shown as following a
path bending away from the normal instead of getting closer to it. Had
Descartes experimented with tennis balls he would probably have
realized that he should look somewhere else for an illustration of his
law. Not being an experimenter, he failed to perceive the irony of the
situation into which his "absolute truths" had led him. But he had less
trust in the facts than in the tenets of his mechanical philosophy, or
rather creed, which prescribed that little if any reliance "should be
placed upon observations that are not supported by true reasons." [Note 10]. The result was a strange
imbalance between evidences and "principles" which comes to light
nowhere better than in the manner in which Descartes criticized the
experiments of others, and those of Galileo in particular.
While praising him
for his emphasis on mathematics, Descartes took Galileo to task for his
attention to particular cases "without having considered the first
causes of nature." According to Descartes' sweeping judgment, Galileo
"has built without a foundation. Indeed because his fashion of
philosophizing is so near the truth one can the more readily recognize
his faults." [Note 11]
Needless to say the shoe was on the wrong foot.
The Cartesians were
no more fortunate when it came to the mathematical results of
non-Cartesian physicists. The famous case is Galileo's law of the free
fall, which neither Descartes nor Mersenne would accept. Mersenne's
remark on this point is particularly characteristic, showing as it does
the highly arbitrary character of some formulations of the mechanical
creed in the first part of the seventeenth century. "I doubt that
Signor Galileo performed the experiments of the inclined planes,
because he makes no mention of them and because the proportion he gives
often contradicts experience." [Note 12]
True, Mersenne wished that as many as possible would perform the
experiment and with all the necessary precautions to see "if enough
light could be drawn from them for constructing a theory." [Note 13] This was a skeptical
proviso, however, for Mersenne held that experiments were not able to
give rise to a science. On the contrary, scientific knowledge was to be
derived according to the Cartesians from postulates and "necessary
conclusions" that were to be considered, to hear J. Rohault -- the most
widely read expositor of Cartesian physics -- not as arbitrary
hypotheses but rather as truths that "follow necessarily from the
motion and division of the parts of the matter." This, he added,
"experience teaches us to recognize in the universe." [Note 14] Such a halfhearted
reference to the role of experience was genuinely Cartesian and Rohault
probably did not even care to soften much the glaring arbitrariness of
the dicta of the Cartesian version of mechanical philosophy.
To claim too much,
however, ultimately creates suspicion even within the fold. A Cartesian
himself, Huygens could not help seeing some non-scientific motivation
behind Descartes' contentions. That Descartes, as Huygens put it, was
jealous of the fame of Galileo, and wanted to be revered in the schools
as Aristotle had been was only too human and certainly forgivable.
Descartes' absolute statements were, however, a different matter, for,
as Huygens observed, science had to suffer the consequences. Descartes,
he wrote, "put forward his conjectures as verities, almost as if they
could be proved by his affirming them on oath...and claimed to have
revealed the precise truth thereby greatly impeding the discovery of
genuine knowledge." [Note 15]
But whatever cracks
and faults there might have been in Descartes' physics, of its basic
assumptions, the mechanical explanation of the world, Huygens
entertained no doubts. When speaking of the nature of light did Huygens
not voice wholeheartedly the mechanical creed? For him the focusing of
light by concave mirrors was "assuredly the mark of motion, at least in
the true philosophy, in which one conceives the causes of all natural
effects in terms of mechanical motions." There were no alternatives,
for, as he exclaimed, "this we must necessarily do, or else renounce
all hope of ever comprehending anything in physics." [Note 17]
Far less skeptical
than Huygens regarding things invisible, Boyle kept trying to give a
metaphysical foundation to the mechanical creed all his life. He viewed
the shape of the universe as a consequence of the motion and mechanical
properties with which God had endowed the particles of matter in the
beginning. On this fundamental tenet he based the mechanical philosophy
that in his words, "teaches that the phenomena of the world are
physically produced by the mechanical properties of the parts of
matter, and that they operate upon one another according to mechanical
laws." [Note 18] In Boyle's
eyes the validity of these laws knew no exception. Even an angel, he
said, could not produce any real change in the world without doing it
through mechanical means.
Not that this meant
to impose a sort of constraint on celestial beings. As pure
intelligences, the angels had to operate on extended matter along the
only way that befitted correct reasoning: the mechanical way. For, as
Boyle stressed, the mechanical philosopher can accept only such
physical agents as intelligible which can be reduced "to matter and
some or other of those only catholick affections of matter." [Note 19] Such emphasis on the exclusive
intelligibility of the mechanical principles cannot be
stressed enough if one is to have a genuine insight into the classical
physicist's state of mind.
This holds of
Kelvin's age as well as of Boyle's. Not that Boyle had been the
initiator of the conviction that equated intelligibility with
mechanism: his excellence lay rather in his ability to serve as the
literary spokesman of the scientific aspirations of his age. For Boyle,
prolific as his writings were, did not say much that was new. Yet, in
all that he said his contemporaries instinctively recognized their own
minds and tastes. As Leibniz commented on Boyle's works in 1691: "In
his books, and for all the consequences that he draws from his
observations, he concludes only what we all know, namely, that
everything happens mechanically." [Note
Leibniz was not alone
in such an appraisal of Boyle's efforts. He also recalled with
unreserved concurrence the puzzlement of Spinoza, who, as Leibniz tells
us, was unable to comprehend why Boyle had not derived "from an
infinity of beautiful experiments" conclusions other than the one
"which could have been taken as a principle, namely, that everything in
nature is effected mechanically; a principle which can be made certain
by reason alone and never by experiments however numerous they may be."
[Note 21] Leibniz was, of
course, the prince of those who during this early phase of classical
physics gave precedence to the a priori approach as opposed to a
rigorous inductive, experimental procedure. This choice of theirs,
however, did not set them apart from people like Hooke and Boyle, as
regards that basic tenet which equated intelligibility with mechanism.
physics had to be content, for a while at least, to emphasize the
principal point: all genuine explanations in physics had to be molded
on some mechanical pattern. The details of the pattern were of
secondary importance provided they were strictly mechanical. Thus, in
explaining the behavior of air in a pump, Boyle spoke of the spring of
air without committing himself to either of the two mechanical models
applicable to the problem. [Note 22]
The air, he said, might resemble a heap of little bodies lying upon one
another like a fleece of wool, or it might just as well be a mass of
flexible particles agitated by heat. If the latter is the case, the
particles of air would have no "structure requisite to springs," still
the principle of mechanical explanation is safeguarded, for what is a
chain of impacts if not a form of mechanism?
A rapid glance at the
titles of Boyle's works shows that in most of the topics he
investigated the exact mechanism of the processes responsible for the
phenomena could not be known in Boyle's time. All the same, Boyle spoke
undauntedly of the mechanical causation of all the phenomena perceived
by the senses. [Note 23] In
the world of phenomena hardly anything missed his attention, and he
recounted with untiring patience an immense list of observations and
experiments relating to the mechanical production of heat, cold,
tastes, odors volatility, corrosiveness, chemical precipitation,
magnetism, and electricity, to name his main topics alone. [Note 24]
True, Boyle was aware
of the fact that the gross mechanical processes he spoke of were only
in distant relation to the basic mechanism of nature operating through
the most minute parts of bodies. What this mechanism was like one could
only infer by imagination, helped in no small measure by those recently
devised "outward instruments" as Hooke called the telescope and the
microscope. Machinery, or miniature clockwork, was seen neither by
Hooke nor by others peering through the microscope, but they saw enough
small geometrical patterns in a wide range of materials investigated.
They hardly asked for more on behalf of their faith in mechanism.
As Hooke, the most
celebrated early reporter on the world of the microscope, put it:
"Those effects of Bodies, which have been commonly attributed to
Qualities, and those confess'd to be occult, are perform'd by the small
Machines of Nature...[and] are...the mere products of Motion, Figure
and Magnitude." [Note 25] In
all this, however, the rhetoric of conviction was far ahead of the
sober appraisal of the evidence at hand. Little did this disparity
between claims and proofs worry his contemporaries. Instead, they
praised such efforts unreservedly, as Locke did in speaking of Boyle:
"He was thought to go farthest in an intelligible
explanation of the qualities of bodies." [Note
26] (italics added).
Galileo, by Bertolt Brech
27], [Note 28]
Cast (in Scene 12)
Galileo's science student and friend
Monk: a student
Galileo's daughter, totally faithful to the Church
twenty second sixteen thirty three,
A momentous date for you and me. Of all the days that was the one An
age of reason could have begun.
garden of the Florentine Ambassador at Rome where Galileo's assistants
wait the news of the trial. The Little Monk and Federzoni are
attempting to concentrate on a game of chess. Virginia kneels in a
corner, praying and counting her beads.
didn't even grant him an audience.
"Discorsi" will never be finished. The sum of his findings. They will
(stealing a glance at him):
really think so?
when you lie awake at night how your mind fastens on to something
irrelevant. Last night I kept thinking: if only they would let him take
his little stone in with him, the appeal-to-reason-pebble that he
always carries in his pocket.
In the room
they'll take him to, he won't have a pocket.
But he will
they beat the truth out of a man who gave his sight in order to see?
(speaking about VIRGINIA):
praying that he will recant.
alone. She doesn't know whether she s on her head or on her heels since
they got hold of her. They brought her Father Confessor from Florence.
INFORMER of Scene 10 enters.[Note
will be here soon. He may need a bed.
let him out?
is expected to recant at five o'clock. The big bell of Saint Marcus
will be rung and the complete text of his recantation publicly
will be brought to the garden gate at the back of the house, to avoid
the crowds collecting in the streets. (He goes.)
The moon is
an earth because the light of the moon is not her own. Jupiter is a
fixed star, and four moons turn around Jupiter, therefore we are not
shut in by crystal shells. The sun is the pivot of our world, therefore
the earth is not the center. The earth moves, spinning about the sun.
And he showed us. You can't make a man unsee what he has seen.
o'clock is one minute.
of you, they are murdering the truth.
He stops up
his ears with his fingers. The two other pupils do the same. FEDERZONI
goes over to the LITTLE MONK, and all of them stand absolutely still in
cramped positions. Nothing happens. No bell sounds. After a silence,
filled with the murmur of Virginia's prayers, FEDERZONI runs to the
wall to look at the clock. He turns around, his expression changed. He
shakes his head. They drop their hands.
bell. It is three minutes after.
true. It is all right, it is all right.
He did not
embrace each other, they are delirious with joy.
cannot accomplish everything. What has been seen can't be unseen. Man
is constant in the face of death.
1633: dawn of the age of reason. I wouldn't have wanted to go on living
if he had recanted.
say anything, but I was in agony. O ye of little faith!
I was sure.
have turned our morning to night.
have been as if the mountain had turned to water.
MONK (kneeling down, crying):
O God, I
humanity can lift its head. A man has stood up and said No.
this moment the bell of Saint Marcus begins to toll. They stand like
statues. VIRGINIA stands up.
The bell of
Saint Marcus. He is not damned.
the street one hears the TOWN CRIER reading GALILEO'S recantation.
Galilei, Teacher of Mathematics and Physics, do hereby publicly
renounce my teaching that the earth moves. I forswear this teaching
with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith and detest and curse this and
all other errors and heresies repugnant to the Holy Scriptures. [Note 30]
lights dim; when they come up again the bell of Saint Marcus is
petering out. VIRGINIA has gone but the SCHOLARS are still there
mountain did turn to water.
has entered quietly and unnoticed. He is changed almost unrecognizable.
He has heard ANDREA. He waits some seconds by the door for somebody to
greet him. Nobody does. They retreat from him. He goes slowly and
because of his bad sight uncertainly to the front of the stage where he
finds a chair and sits down.
look at him. Tell him to go away.
his big gut.
Get him a
glass of water.
LITTLE MONK fetches a glass of water for ANDREA. Nobody acknowledges
the presence of GALILEO, who sits silently on his chair listening to
the voice of the TOWN CRIER, now in another street.
walk. Just help me a bit.
him to the door.
(in the door )
the land that breeds no hero."
the land that needs a hero."
the next scene a curtain with the following legend on it is lowered:
CAN PLAINLY SEE THAT IF A HORSE WERE TO FALL FROM A HEIGHT OF THREE OR
FOUR FEET, IT COULD BREAK ITS BONES, WHEREAS A DOG WOULD NOT SUFFER
INJURY. THE SAME APPLIES TO A CAT FROM A HEIGHT OF AS MUCH AS EIGHT OR
TEN FEET, TO A GRASSHOPPER FROM THE TOP OF A TOWER, AND TO AN ANT
FALLING DOWN FROM THE MOON. NATURE COULD NOT ALLOW A HORSE TO BECOME AS
BIG AS TWENTY HORSES NOR A GIANT AS BIG AS TEN MEN, UNLESS SHE WERE TO
CHANGE THE PROPORTIONS OF ALL ITS MEMBERS, PARTICULARLY THE BONES. THUS
THE COMMON ASSUMPTION THAT GREAT AND SMALL STRUCTURES ARE EQUALLY TOUGH
IS OBVIOUSLY WRONG. -- From The Discorsi
Galileo Galilei, son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged
seventy years, arraigned personally before this tribunal, and kneeling
before you, most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, Inquisitors
general against heretical depravity throughout the whole Christian
Republic, having before my eyes and touching with my hands, the holy
Gospels -- swear that I have always believed, do now believe, and by
God's help will for the future believe, all that is held, preached, and
taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church. But whereas --
after an injunction had been judicially intimated to me by this Holy
Office, to the effect that I must altogether abandon the false opinion
that the sun is the centre of the world and immovable, and that the
earth is not the centre of the world, and moves, and that I must hold,
defend, or teach in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing, the
said doctrine, and after it had been notified to me that the said
doctrine was contrary to Holy Scripture -- I wrote and printed a book
in which I discuss this doctrine already condemned, and adduce
arguments of great cogency in its favor, without presenting any
solution of these; and for this cause I have been pronounced by the
Holy Office to be vehemently suspected of heresy, that is to say, of
having held and believed that the sun is the centre of the world and
immovable, and that the earth is not the centre and moves:
to remove from the minds of your Eminences, and of all faithful
Christians, this strong suspicion, reasonably conceived against me,
with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the
aforesaid errors and heresies, and generally every other error and sect
whatsoever contrary to the said Holy Church; and I swear that in the
future I will never again say or assert, verbally or in writing,
anything that might furnish occasion for a similar suspicion regarding
me; but that should I know any heretic, or person suspected of heresy,
I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor and
ordinary of the place where I may be. Further, I swear and promise to
fulfill and observe in their integrity all penances that have been, or
that shall be, imposed upon me by this Holy Office. And, in the event
of my contravening, (which God forbid) any of these my promises,
protestations, and oaths, I submit myself to all the pains and
penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other
constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents. So
help me God, and these His holy Gospels, which I touch with my hands.
I, the said Galileo
Galilei, have abjured, sworn, promised, and bound myself as above; and
in witness of the truth thereof I have with my own hand subscribed the
present document of my abjuration, and recited it word for word at
Rome, in the Convent of Minerva, this twenty-second day of June, 1633.
I, Galileo Galilei,
have abjured as above with my own hand.
View of the Collaboration of Religion and Modern Science
Address of Pope John Paul II
Along with Your
Excellency [Dr. Chagas] and with Drs. Dirac and Weisskopf, both
illustrious members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, I rejoice in
this solemn commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Albert
Einstein. The Apostolic See also wishes to render to Albert Einstein
the honor that is due him for the eminent contribution he has made to
the progress of science -- that is, to the knowledge of the truth
present in the mystery of the universe.
I feel myself in full
agreement with my predecessor Pius XI, and with those who succeeded him
to the Chair of Saint Peter, in inviting members of the Pontifical
Academy of Sciences, and all other scientists, to bring about "the
progress of the sciences ever more nobly and more intensely, without
asking anything more of them; this excellent aim and this noble effort
represent a mission of serving the truth with which we entrust them" (Motu
proprio In multis solacils, 28 October 1936, on the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences: Acta Apostolicae Sedis
Vol, 28 (1936), p. 424.)
The search for truth
is the task of basic science. The researcher who moves into this
primary area of science feels all the fascination of the words of Saint
Augustine: "Intellectum valde ama" (Epist. 120,
3, 13: Patrologia Latina ,
Vol. 33, p. 459) -- that is, to "love intelligence greatly" and its
function, to know the truth. Basic science is a good, worthy of being
very much loved, for it is knowledge and therefore the perfection of
man's intelligence. Even more than its technical applications, it must
be honored for itself, as an integral part of our culture. Fundamental
science is a universal good that all people must be able to cultivate
in complete freedom from every form of international servitude or
Basic research must
be free with regard to political and economic powers, which must
cooperate in its development without impeding its creativity or
subjugating it to their own ends. Like any other truth, scientific
truth must render account only to itself and to the supreme truth that
is God, creator of man and of all things.
In its second aspect,
science turns to practical applications, which find their full
development in the diverse technologies. In the area of its concrete
applications, science is necessary to humanity in order to satisfy the
just requirements of life and to overcome the various evils that
threaten it. There is no doubt that applied science has rendered and
will render immense services to man if it is inspired by love, ruled by
wisdom, and accompanied by the courage that defends it against undue
interference by all tyrannical powers. Applied science must be allied
with conscience so that through the triad
science-technology-conscience, the true good of humanity will be
Unfortunately, as I
had occasion to say in my encyclical Redemptor hominis
, "Man today seems always menaced by what he produces.... This seems to
constitute the principal act of the drama of human existence today"
(No. 15). Man must emerge victorious from this drama, which threatens
to degenerate into tragedy, and he must rediscover his authentic
kingship over the world and his full dominion over the things he
produces. Today, as I wrote in the same encyclical, "the fundamental
meaning of this 'kingship' and of this 'dominion'' of man over the
visible world, which is given him as a task by the Creator, consists in
the priority of ethics over technology, the preeminence of people over
things, and the superiority of spirit over matter" (No. 16).
superiority is maintained to the extent that the sense of the
transcendence of man over the world, and of God over man, is preserved.
The Church, by carrying out her mission of guardian and advocate of
both transcendence, believes that she is assisting science to keep its
s in the area of basic research and accomplish its service to man in
the area of practical applications.
On the other hand,
the Church willingly recognizes that she has benefited from science. It
is to science, among other things, that we must attribute what the
Council has said concerning certain aspects of modern culture: "New
conditions have their impact finally on religious life itself. The rise
of a critical spirit purifies it of a magical view of the world and of
superstitions that still circulate, and exacts a more personal and
explicit adherence to faith; as a result, many persons are achieving a
more vivid sense of God" (Gaudium et spes ,
between religion and modern science is to the advantage of both,
without in any way violating their respective autonomy. Just as
religion requires religious freedom, science legitimately claims
freedom to carry on research. The second Vatican Council, after
reaffirming with the first Vatican Council the just freedom of the arts
and human disciplines in the area of their own principles and their own
methods, solemnly recognizes "the legitimate autonomy of human culture
and especially of the sciences" Gaudium et spes,
No. 59). On the occasion of this solemn commemoration of Einstein, I
would like to confirm again the Council's declaration on the autonomy
of science in its function of searching for the truth inscribed during
the creation by the finger of God. Filled with admiration for the
genius of the great scientist, in whom is revealed the imprint of the
creative spirit, without intervening in any way with a judgment on the
doctrines concerning the great systems of the universe, which is not in
her power to make, the Church nevertheless recommends these doctrines
for consideration by theologians in order to discover the harmony that
exists between scientific truth and revealed truth.
The Case of
Mr. President, you
said very rightly that Galileo and Einstein each characterized an era.
The greatness of Galileo is recognized by all, as is that of Einstein;
but while today we honor the latter before the College of Cardinals in
the apostolic palace, the former had to suffer much -- we cannot deny
it -- from men and organizations within the Church. The Vatican Council
has recognized and deplored unwarranted interferences: "We cannot but
deplore -- it is written in number 36 of the Council's constitution Gaudium
et spes -- certain attitudes found, too, among Christians
insufficiently informed of the legitimate autonomy of science. Sources
of tensions and conflicts, they have led many minds to think that
science and faith were opposed." The reference to Galileo is expressed
clearly in the note joined to this text, which cites the volume Vita
e opere di Galileo Galilei by Monsignor Pio Paschini,
published by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
To go beyond this
stand taken by the Council, I hope that theologians, scientists, and
historians, imbued with a sprit of sincere collaboration, will more
deeply examine Galileo's case, and by recognizing the wrongs, from
whatever side they may have come, will dispel the mistrust that this
affair still raises in many minds, against a fruitful harmony between
science and faith, between the Church and the world. I give all my
support to this task, which will honor the truth of faith and of
science an open the door to future collaboration.
Permit me to submit
to your attention and consideration some points that seem to me
important for viewing Galileo's case in its true light. In this matter,
the points of agreement between religion and science are more numerous
and above all more important, than the lack of understanding that has
led to a bitter and painful conflict drawn out over the following
He who is rightly
called the founder of modern physics declared explicitly that the two
truths, of faith and of science, can never contradict each other. "Holy
Scripture and nature proceed equally from the divine Word, the former
as it were dictated by the Holy Spirit, the latter as a very faithful
executor of God's orders." as he wrote in his letter to Father
Benedetto Castelli on 21 December 1613 (national edition of the works
of Galileo, vol. V, pp. 282-285). The second Vatican Council does not
express itself otherwise; it even uses similar expressions when it
teaches: "Methodical investigation in every branch of learning, if
carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral
standards, never truly conflicts with faith for earthly matters and the
concerns of faith derive from the same God" (Gaudium et spes,
Galileo feels in his
scientific research the presence of the Creator who inspires him and
aids his intuition, acting in the inmost recesses of his spirit. With
regard to the invention of the telescope, he writes at the beginning of
Sidereus Nuncius, recalling several of his astronomical discoveries: "Quae
omnia ope Perspicilli a me excogitati divina prius illuminante gratia,
paucis abhinc diebus reperta, atque observata fuerunt" (Sidereus Nuncius,
Venetiis, apud Thomam Baglionum, MDCX, fol. 4). "All of this has been
discovered and observed these last days thanks to the 'telescope' that
I have invented, after having been enlightened by divine grace."
confession of divine illumination of the mind of the scientists finds
an echo in the text of the Council's constitution, on the Church in the
modern world: "Whoever labors to penetrate the secrets of reality with
a humble and steady mind is being led y the hand of God, even if he
remains unaware of it." (loc. cit.). The humility
stressed by the Council's text is a virtue necessary both for
scientific research and for commitment to the faith. Humility creates a
climate favorable for a dialogue between the believer and the
scientist: it calls for enlightenment by God, recognized as such or
not, but valued in both cases by one who humbly seeks the truth.
important norms of an epistemological character that are indispensable
for reconciling Holy Scripture and science. In his letter to the
Dowager Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Christine of Lorraine, he reaffirms
the truth of Scripture: "Holy Scripture can never lie, provided its
true meaning is understood, which -- I do not think it can be denied --
is often hidden and very different from what a simple interpretation of
the words seems to indicate" (national edition of the works of Galileo,
vol. V, p. 315). Galileo introduces a principle of interpretation of
the sacred books that goes beyond the literal meaning but is in accord
with the intention and type of exposition proper to each of them. It is
necessary, as he affirms, that "the wise men who explain it should
bring out their true meaning."
authorities admit that there is more than one way to interpret the Holy
Scriptures. In fact, it was explicitly stated in the encyclical Divino
afflante Spiritu of Pius XII that there are different
literary styles in the sacred books and therefore interpretations must
conform to the character of each.
The various points of
agreement that I have brought to mind do not only resolve all the
problems of Galileo's case, but they contribute to creating a favorable
starting point for their honorable solution, a state of mind propitious
for an honest and straightforward resolution of old conflicts.
The existence of the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which which Galileo was, in a sense,
associated through the old institutions that preceded the one to which
eminent scientists belong today, is a visible sign that shows to the
people of the world, without any form of racial or religious
discrimination, the profound harmony that can exist between the truths
of science and the truths of faith.
- Galilei Galileo. Dialogue
Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Stillman Drake
(trans.) Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953.
- History of the Inductive Sciences,
I. New York, 1858, p. 338.
- Le monde ou traitŽ de la lumi�re,
in Oeuvres, XI, p. 10.
- Le monde ou traitŽ de la lumi�re,
in Oeuvres, XI, p. 11.
- Letter to Mersenne, in Oeuvres,
II, p. 497.
- Les principes de la philosophie,
I. 28, in Oeuvres, IX, p. 37.
- 8 Les principes de la philosophie,
II, 53, in Oeuvres, IX, p. 93.
- La dioptrique,
discours II, in Oeuvres, VI, p. 98.
- Les meteores,
discours VIII, in Oeuvres, VI, p. 340.
- Letter to Mersenne, Oct. 11,1638, in
Oeuvres, II, p. 380.
- Harmonie universelle,
II: TraitŽ de mŽchanique. Paris l635, p. 112.
- Harmonie universelle,
II: TraitŽ de mŽchanique. Paris l635, p. 112.
- Traite de physique,
I, 4th ed. Paris, l682, p. 166.
- "Remarques de Huygens sur La vie de Descartes
par Baillet," in M. V. Gousin, Fragments philosophiques,
II, 5th ed. Paris, 1866, p. 118.
- TraitŽ de la lumi�re
(l690), in Oeuvres, XIX, p. 46l.
- In Oeuvres,
VII, p. 298.
- About the Excellency and Grounds
of the Mechanical Hypothesis, in Works,
IV, pp. 68-69.
- About the Excellency and Grounds
of the Mechanical Hypothesis, in Works,
IV, p. 73.
- Letter to Huygens, Dec. 29, 1691; in
Leibnitz Selections, p. XXV.
- Nouveaux essais,
Book IV, chap. xii, in J. E. Erdmann (ed.). God, Guil,
Leibnitii opera philosophica. Berlin, 1840, p. 383.
- New Experiments
Physico-Mechanical, touching the Spring of the Air,
in Works, I, p. 12.
- Origin of Forrns and Qualities
according to the Corpuscular Philosophy, in Works,
III, pp. 1-113.
- Experiments, Notes, etc., about
the Mechanical Origin or Production of Divers Particular Qualities,
in Works, IV, pp. 230-354.
(1665), preface; reprinted in R. T. Gunther (ed.). Early Science in
Oxford, XIII. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1938, p. g.
- Quoted in J. C. Gregory. A
Short History of Atomism from Democritus to Bohr. London:
Black, 1931, p. 35
- Bertholt Brecht. Galileo.
English Version by Charles Laughton. New York: Grove Press, 1966.
- Galileo's problems with the Church
are paralleled in a more modern-day situation with the inquisition of
J. Robert Oppenheimer who opposed the Air Force's desire to develop a
nuclear-powered bomber. Oppenheimer was articulate and extremely
persuasive in the scientific community. If he could use his influence
to affect political policy regarding the nuclear bomber, perhaps he
would use that influence to interfere in other policy decisions. So he
was branded a heretic and "excommunicated" by having his security
clearance taken away. In his own statement of "Eppur si muove!" he said
"We have been doing the work of the Devil, and now we must return to
our real tasks. Rabi told me a few days ago that he wants to devote
himself entirely to research again. We cannot do better than keep the
world open in the few places which can still be kept open." In the play
In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer by
Heinar Kipphardt (John Roberts, trans.) New York: Hill and Wang, 1968,
the curtain falls at the end of the play with a text projected on the
hangings: "On December 2, 1963, President Johnson presented J. Robert
Oppenheimer with the Enrico Fermi Prize for services rendered on the
atomic energy program in crucial years. The recommendation for the
conferment was submitted by Edward Teller, the prize winner of the
previous year." And this parallels the church finally reinstating
Galileo in good stead as a scholar.
- In Scene 10 Virginia remarks on the
"funny-looking man" who has entered the antechamber in the Medicean
palace quite casually and seated himself in the background, taking no
apparent notice of Galileo.
- 30 Galileo's full recantation is
given at the end of the scene.
Vol. 207 (March 14, 1980), pp. 1165-67. This article is based on the
address by Pope John Paul II at the Einstein Session of the Pontifical
Academy of Science, Vatican City, November 10, 1979. The Pope's speech,
which was given in French, was translated for Science by Prof. Robert
Nicolich of Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064.
For a great WWW
access provider contact Grady
Associates at http://www.rochester.ny.us/Grady.html
L. Wilson (FLWGSH@ritvax.isc.rit.edu)
July 7, 1996