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400 Years Ago, Galileo Discovered Four Jovian Moons

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the dwarfing-the-dwarf-planets dept.

Space 161

krswan writes "OK, the moons themselves are much older, but on January 7, 1610 Galileo first observed '4 fixed stars' surrounding Jupiter. Observations of their changing positions led Galileo to postulate they were really moons orbiting Jupiter, which became further evidence against Aristotelian Cosmology, which led to problems with the Roman Catholic Church, etc... Jupiter will be low in the southwest (in the Northern Hemisphere) after sunset this evening — nothing else around it is as bright, so you can't miss it. Celebrate by pointing binoculars or a telescope at Jupiter and checking out the moons for yourself."

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Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (2, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688668)

Galileo!

Re:Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30688736)

Figaro!

Re:Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (2, Funny)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689064)

Magnifico!

Re:Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688750)

Galileo! [youtube.com]

Re:Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689074)

Galileo Figaro?

Magnifico!

Re:Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (1)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689350)

Muppets > Queen [youtube.com]

Re:Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689032)

Seeing as how it's now 2010, let's just get this out of the way, too,... =)

All these worlds are yours
Except Europa.
Attempt no landing there.
Use them together.
Use them in peace.

When's the supernova? =)

Re:Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (5, Funny)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689056)

Galileo!

MOON 1 [sings]:
I'm just a small moon
Nobody sees me

MOONS 2,3,4:
He's just a small moon
Smaller than Ganymede

GALILEO:
But wait! What? OH!
I think I've found Io!

MOONS 2,3,4:
He thinks he's found Io!

GALILEO:
I think I've found Io!

MOON 2:
GALILEO!

MOON 3:
GALILEO!

GALILEO:
FIGARO!

Re:Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (5, Funny)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689232)

MOON 3:
GALILEO!

Score:1 Offtopic

Wow, I guess someone forgot to change someone's litterbox today.

I'll have you know that this is a musico-historical recreation of the moment of discovery of the fourth of the Galilean moons, encapsulated in a parody of a song depicting the senseless persecution of an innocent man.

My creation is also a bitter, post-modernist exploration of themes of alone-ness and alienation expressed as bodies adrift in the outer reaches of space, a veritable cri de coeur about the importance of attention to one's self-esteem and ultimate sense of being. It's a semiotical exploration of the most fundamental aspects of the human condition!

Offtopic, my keister! It's practically dripping with topicity!

(I knew that Arts degree would come in handy some day.)

Re:Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689730)

Offtopic, my keister! It's practically dripping with topicity!

Then you might not want to apply so much topical cream to it!

BTW, you won the internet today. I'm going to be humming that song tonight as I look at Ol' Jupes.

I missed something (0, Redundant)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688670)

I'm a big fan of History, and I'm also a fan of Astronomy. Jupiter is a little rare but its no Haley's Comet...

So what exactly are we "Celebrating"?

Re:I missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30688698)

Yes, you missed noticing that, today is a slow news day. This and hotmail story are the results.

Re:I missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689086)

I'm still waiting for today's iPhone story!

Re:I missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690140)

There are some really good star/planetary maps for the iPhone. The one I bought can use the GPS and compass to identify whatever celestial object you point it at.

It doesn't seem to work with the Moon, though, for some reason. I guess they figure everybody who can afford an iPhone already knows where the Moon is.

Re:I missed something (4, Insightful)

MaXintosh (159753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688718)

400 years since the observation by an eminent scientist, who then turned that observation into a revolution of astronomy? The life and times of Galileo? The rise of Heliocentrism?
You know. Stuff that they said in the slashdot article?

Re:I missed something (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688740)

Oh was that like, 400 years ago TODAY?

Re:I missed something (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688786)

Didn't they use a different calendar 400 years ago?

Re:I missed something (3, Informative)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688950)

Didn't they use a different calendar 400 years ago?

They did indeed use a different calendar [wikipedia.org] 400 years ago in some countries, but the Italian states (where Galileo did his observations) had already adopted the Gregorian calendar by then.

Re:I missed something (5, Funny)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689058)

Dude, they used a different calendar 1 year ago.

Re:I missed something (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689448)

That calendar had pictures of Women of Curling [blogspot.com] . This years calendar will have pictures of Amanda Bynes [maxim.com] .

Re:I missed something (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30688816)

I'd ask you to turn in your geek card on the way out the door but I'm afraid you wouldn't be able to find it in your wallet with that level of reading comprehension.

Re:I missed something (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688868)

I just don't see why there is anymore reason to celebrate it tonight than there is to celebrate it in June...

Re:I missed something (3, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689010)

In the event that you are or ever become married, you'll probably want to rethink your position regarding anniversaries.

Re:I missed something (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689156)

Why buy the plow when you can sew the fields for free?

No wait... How's it go again?

Re:I missed something (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689878)

Sew the fields? You must have some pretty hefty thread for that seam.

Re:I missed something (1)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690026)

And let me tell you, it takes a hefty awl for the job!

Re:I missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689966)

> In the event that you are or ever become married, you'll probably want to rethink your position regarding anniversaries.

You don't have to worry about him. He's already posting to Slashdot...

Re:I missed something (1)

krswan (465308) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689968)

I just don't see why there is anymore reason to celebrate it tonight than there is to celebrate it in June...

I guess because Jupiter won't be up until 3am in June? :)

Re:I missed something (0)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688920)

Bah, what Galileo did wasn't special. Anyone with just a regular old consumer grade digital camera and a tripod can do the same [daughtersoftiresias.org] (shorter exposure [daughtersoftiresias.org] later that summer).

What a bragger.

Re:I missed something (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689048)

Anyone with just a regular old consumer grade digital camera and a tripod can do the same (shorter exposure later that summer).

What, take a picture of Space Rods [paranormal...omena.info] ? Galileo couldn't do that! He didn't have the advanced technology of cheapo digital cameras to see these amazing creatures. Now found even in space!

Or maybe he could, but despite the myths was actually just a tool of the establishment, covering up the TRUTH!

Re:I missed something (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689100)

He didn't have the advanced technology of cheapo digital cameras

Well, maybe he should have gotten off his butt and GOTTEN A JOB so he could afford one? Lazy heretic.

Re:I missed something (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689504)

Heretics were the hippies of the 1600s.

Re:I missed something (3, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690342)

How is Halley's comet more significant than the discovery of the first moons in our solar system, apart from our own? (Long thought to be a "planet", not a moon in the modern sense.) With a stroke, Galileo established that other planets could have systems around them, not just Earth. Given that conventional views were that Earth was the center of all heavenly motions, that was pretty major.

Great anniversary! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30688674)

Yay! I'll drink to that!

Re:Great anniversary! (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688820)

I'll buy that for a dollar!

Well! (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688684)

Talk about a late slashdot story

Re:Well! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30688838)

Damn! My line! Centuries after the fact and i still didn't make it in time to post that joke.

Re:Well! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30688862)

Talk about a late slashdot story

To make matters worse, it's a dupe. The first came out on a linen scroll (no, it didn't run Linex).
     

Re:Well! (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689012)

400 years? That's about normal isn't it?

Don't worry... (2, Funny)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689284)

Talk about a late slashdot story

Don't worry. It'll be duped in 100 years.

Re:Well! (1)

crackspackle (759472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689602)

I've just discovered my own Jovian Moon !!! * slaps naked butt in mirror after three chili dogs with beans and sauerkraut *

No, I won't (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688760)

Jupiter will be low in the southwest (in the Northern Hemisphere) after sunset this evening — nothing else around it is as bright, so you can't miss it.

I can miss it, because I'm living in the middle of a snow storm. Insensitive clod, etc.

Re:No, I won't (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689264)

Jupiter will be low in the southwest (in the Northern Hemisphere) after sunset this evening — nothing else around it is as bright, so you can't miss it.

I can miss it, because I'm living in the middle of a snow storm. Insensitive clod, etc.

You live on Titan?

Re:No, I won't (2, Informative)

volcanopele (537152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689656)

When does it snow on Titan? Rain, yes. Lots of Rain, sure. A gentle drizzle from the stratosphere, why not? But, nope, no snow... not cold enough for methane or ethane to fall as snow on Titan, even at the winter pole.

Re:No, I won't (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689764)

Maybe around the cryovolcanoes, if they exist.

Re:No, I won't (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689962)

You live on Titan?

Close enough. Minnesota here.

Yeah, clear skies are about a day off.

Folks should remember to catch the Mars opposition in a couple weeks too.

Re:No, I won't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690256)

I can miss it as well, because I live on the north side of a very steep and very high mountain, and furthermore my house is surrounded by trees. The north wall doesn't see sun from September to May.

Well, to be fair... (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688766)

which became further evidence against Aristotelian Cosmology, which led to problems with the Roman Catholic Church

To be fair, he also came up with this crazy-wrong idea about how the earth's motion was responsible for the tides. Also, making fun of any 17th-century Italian nobleman (Pope or otherwise) by naming a character in your book "Simpleton" (Simplicio) and strongly implying that you based it off of him.... after he's trying to give you a chance and says "write it up, try to fairly represent both points of view, okay?" ... Well, that's the just sort of social/political ineptitude that's going to get you into serious trouble. (Think of that next time you stumble into office politics.)

Re:Well, to be fair... (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688822)

While that publication may have been clear Flamebait is seems he was an established author [wikipedia.org] at the time, which should have counted in has favour. A bit like wanting to execute Carl Sagan because of his TV show.

Re:Well, to be fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690040)

Even the pope abuses the mod system:

Re: These cool moons I saw. (Score:-1 Flamebait) by Galileo (1522)

Re:Well, to be fair... (2, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688882)

To be fair, he also came up with this crazy-wrong idea about how the earth's motion was responsible for the tides.

To be fair, that's not entirely wrong. If the Earth rotated at different speeds the tides would be observably different.

Re:Well, to be fair... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689000)

Plus it's not unheard of to count Earth-Moon system as a double planet. Movements of which...

Church Mod (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688910)

Also, making fun of any 17th-century Italian nobleman (Pope or otherwise) by naming a character in your book "Simpleton" (Simplicio) ... that's the just sort of social/political ineptitude that's going to get [a scientist] into serious trouble...

Back then, the mod system locked you up, not just gave you a -1 troll

Re:Church Mod (2, Informative)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690346)

The Italian city-states of the time weren't terribly friendly to non-conformists, actually. Galileo got off lucky. Violation of sumptuary laws, i.e. wearing clothes that were above your station (there was a hierarchy of rankings, and only the Doge himself could wear Cloth-of-Gold), resulted in the offender being found the next morning buried upside down in a shallow pond, head deep, with their legs tied to a pole (sort of like a Hipgnosis album cover). A conformist society, that, but inventive in a way that wasn't to be matched until the development of formal defenestration by Russia in the 19th century. If you wanted security it helped to have patronage, though that required you to make moral compromises at times (such as DaVinci touring around Florence with Cesare Borgia, documenting plant poisons around 1510-ish). From all this, I suspect Galileo was taking a stand on more than scientific principles (or was dreadfully naiive, perhaps).

Re:Well, to be fair... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688964)

Quite true. Coperincus had a lot more tact, and kept out of trouble largely thanks to that. Galileo even went so far as to personally try to interpret scripture to match his theory.

Re:Well, to be fair... (1)

agbinfo (186523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689192)

even went so far as to personally try to interpret scripture to match his theory.

Isn't that what every good Christian is supposed to do? :-)

Re:Well, to be fair... (1)

youngone (975102) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689388)

Not in the Catholic Church, no. The Pope does the interpreting for you. (A Soviet joke now please).

Re:Well, to be fair... (1)

adamziegler (1082701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690136)

Also something to note... Copernicus was a Catholic Priest.

Re:Well, to be fair... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688984)

To be fair to the pope, Galileo was a bit of a prick.

To be fair to everybody who isn't a medieval reactionary, the pope used state power against Galileo just because of an argument they were having.


That's the thing. It isn't that the pope is the villain of the piece because he opposed a specific idea, it is that the pope is the villain of the piece because he stands for everyone who is willing to meet criticism with force, which is ultimately far more important than being on the wrong side of a single scientific dispute. Had Galileo been a crackpot, with some absurd turtle-based cosmology, the pope would still have been the villain(though Galileo would have been the comic relief, rather than the hero).

Even a cursory glance at the history of science suggests that, at any given time, most people(laymen or scientists) are wrong about enormous amounts of stuff and, where they are right, it is mostly because somebody else figured it out for them. Being on the wrong side of a scientific debate is not a character flaw or a sin. Using force instead of reason is both.

Re:Well, to be fair... (5, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689196)

To be fair to the pope, Galileo was a bit of a prick. To be fair to everybody who isn't a medieval reactionary, the pope used state power against Galileo just because of an argument they were having. .

The thing is that before Galileo published the book that called the Pope a simpleton, the Pope was Galileo's friend. Galileo was having a heated and nasty dispute with a scientific rival. This rival had connections in the Catholic Church that he turned to because Galileo was a prick and gratuitously insulted the rival. Galileo basically said, Nyah, nyah, nyah. the Pope's my friend. The Pope trumps your Bishop." The Pope said, "You are my friend, but these are powerful people. We need to tone down the rhetoric and get everybody to cool down. Galileo, you're the smartest guy I know. Write a book that makes the best case possible for both sides of the argument and I will get these guys off your back."br. Galileo wrote a book that made the Pope out to be a fool and called everybody who disagreed with Galileo on anything an idiot. If Galileo and his rival's positions on Heliocentrism had been reversed, the only thing that would have been different about Galileo's story is that very few people would have ever heard of him.

Oh and the church switch to the Tychonic system (2, Informative)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689508)

Wow, somebody else is pointing out other things that got left out when people talk about the Saint of Science. On top of what you've added the church actually updated their position to the Tychonic model. (Where the Sun and Moon orbit the Earth and the planets orbit the Sun.) The big problem with the Earth going around the Sun is the stars should exibit parallax. There's a few explainations for this. One is the Earth moves but the stars are so far away that they couldn't measure it. The other is it's not actually there because the Earth doesn't move. Tycho's system had the Earth not moving which was a valid point of view given the evidence. (Of course in the 1800's they could finally see the parallax and they knew the Earth moved. Well actually they knew about it before then because Newtonian mechanics pretty much require the Earth to move but they didn't have that either when G was kicking around.) Anyway like you say, if you play around with politics at that time period it could work out badly. (Because that's how politics were at that time.)

Re:Well, to be fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690164)

And yet THE TURTLE MOVES!

haha (4, Funny)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688772)

"By Jove, another moon!"

Re:haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689436)

That's no moon! That's a space station!

I saw them myself... (4, Interesting)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688872)

... back in 1985, while underway on my ship in the U.S. Navy, middle of the Indian Ocean.

I was off watch, and went and visited a Signalman friend up above the wheel house. They had a set of huge binoculars, which they called "big eyes". The sky was crystal clear, you could clearly see the bands of the Milky Way across the sky. Found Jupiter and zoomed in as far as I could, and clearly saw some of the moons around it. It was a neat experience seeing them myself for the first time.

Re:I saw them myself... (1, Troll)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689020)

while underway on my ship in the U.S. Navy, middle of the Indian Ocean...They had a set of huge binoculars...Found Jupiter and zoomed in as far as I could, and clearly saw some of the moons around it.

The darkness of the night sky doesn't make that much difference for seeing Jup's 4 main moons. The glare of Jupiter in its vicinity overwhelms any problems caused by city lights. Planets and their brighter moons are one of the few targets that light pollution doesn't hinder much. Just about any non-damaged 7x35+ binoculars in any city can still see up to 4 moons if Jupiter is high enough in the sky and no haze or overcast.

Or am I ruining a good story?

Re:I saw them myself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689228)

Navy ships carried 20x120 binoculars, they are pretty awesome. I don't know about using them for stargazing while underway, since the ship tends to move around a lot, but I did try them out several times when we were anchored off the Italian Riveria to look at the, ah, shops along the beachfront...

Re:I saw them myself... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689370)

Or am I ruining a good story?

I dunno, are you trying to? I mean, are you implying that because you can see the Galilean moons in a city that the OP didn't see them on a ship in the ocean? Maybe he doesn't have binoculars at home, or never cared to point them at the sky until away from the city when the majesty of the heavens is truly apparent.

In any event, it's true that you can see the moons in the city, which is good for people who might want to take a peek tonight but don't feel like getting to someplace dark. Though sadly light pollution combined with a slight haze can make them invisible when neither on their own would. It's definitely worth a shot for anyone with any kind of optics.

Re:I saw them myself... (1)

Foobar_ (120869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689096)

The moons are actually bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, but as you discovered with the zoom knob, they're too close to Jupiter for (almost) anyone to resolve.

People with unusually sharp vision have seen Venus as a crescent when it's close to Earth, and seen the Galilean moons attending Jupiter when they swing farthest from it. Last person I read about that could do this was an eagle-eyed Arab archer, interviewed IIRC by Arthur Schuster during his expedition to the May 18 1882 eclipse.

Re:I saw them myself... (1)

Foobar_ (120869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689122)

May 17, whatever

Re:I saw them myself... (1)

lastchance_000 (847415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689114)

You don't need a huge pair (of binoculars) to see them. I've used a good quality set of Celestron 10x50's.

Re:I saw them myself... (1)

initialE (758110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689714)

It's a sad point for me that I only got to see a really starry night once in my life, in the middle of the south china sea, and I'm not likely to see it ever again. The dark skies project may sound nice and all, but it's unlikely to ever come to reality.

Cue the wrath of amazing atheists (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30688902)

It is a very modern thinking by a very small group of churches to believe that science is anything more than a spiritually commendable exposition of the motion of the finger of God. And it is a very tedious and oft repeated error of atheist militants that religions are antiscience.

For the hundredth time: the Church did not like Galileo because he mocked the powerful leaders of the Church. Throw a shoe at George, draw Mrs Barack as a monkey, and see how long it is before your mouth shut or your abdomen injured.

Re:Cue the wrath of amazing atheists (1, Troll)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689040)

In defense of the atheists, it would probably be hard for Galileo to separate the two. Back then the Church often had the power to dictate what it was legal to believe. Not so much any more. It would be hard for me to imagine what he must have suffered.

Don't get me wrong, you are correct. Challenging centers of power is indeed a great way to draw their fire.

And it is a very tedious and oft repeated error of atheist militants that religions are antiscience.

No need to pick on the poor souls. They are already drowning in the irony that their rebellion drives them to dictate the beliefs of others, if even only through ridicule and spite. Just smile and let it slide. It will likely dawn on them eventually. Meanwhile it must drive them absolutely nuts to face a thinking believer, to the point that they would deny that it is possible to do both at the same time. Thus it is natural for them to attempt to deny the faithful access to science and reason. Good old fashioned dissonance...

Re:Cue the wrath of amazing atheists (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689158)

No need to pick on the poor souls. They are already drowning in the irony that their rebellion drives them to dictate the beliefs of others, if even only through ridicule and spite. Just smile and let it slide. It will likely dawn on them eventually. Meanwhile it must drive them absolutely nuts to face a thinking believer, to the point that they would deny that it is possible to do both at the same time. Thus it is natural for them to attempt to deny the faithful access to science and reason. Good old fashioned dissonance...

A nice load of straw atheists you have there...

Re:Cue the wrath of amazing atheists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689296)

Good on you, sir. I cowardly post anonymously anything which might defend a church: any attempts to explain that organised religion has, over the millennia, worked with science and technology rather than against it, are met with one line dismissals and moderation to suggest that the opinion must be that of a troll.

The once silent minority polarised viewpoints of strong atheism and literal, reason-rejecting interpretation of religious texts have become so loud! What happened to the healthy scientific scepticism of yore, where doubt and questioning rather than certainty and dogma was the foundation of knowledge?

I know this is the wrong audience, and the Western Anglo-Saxon countries have almost given up on the classical education approach which would give students an understanding of the origins of science, rather than a rote knowledge of Newton's laws. I mean, if you Astronomy 300 and know how to map the motion of planets, you're almost as great as Galileo and Kepler, right? The intellectual imagination and environment required to actually come up with those laws are just a side note in history, which surely went something like this: Lone Genius hackers in a sea of idiots keeping them down. The coincident discoveries, say, of the calculus by Leibniz and Newton? pot luck! Society was against them, man!

The Galileo vs. Catholic Church myth. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30688932)

Here is the truth behind the myth that he was persecuted for heliocentricity rather than offending the Church in another way. Don't reply unless you RTFA: http://www.catholic.com/library/Galileo_Controversy.asp

So the Catholic Church said to Galileo (3, Funny)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688940)

That's no moon!

Happy Io Discovery Day, /. (4, Informative)

volcanopele (537152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688960)

Definitely a good time to check out Jupiter and the four Galilean moons before conjunction which happens in the next couple of months, so Jupiter would then be too close to the Sun.

A minor quibble with the summary above. On January 7, 1610, Galileo only recorded 3 "fixed stars" next to Jupiter. Two of the Galilean moons, Io and Europa, were too close together for Galileo to separate with his 20x power telescope. [blogspot.com] He continued to observe three moons at most, either because one or more moons were too close to Jupiter and were lost in the glare of the planet, Callisto was too far from Jupiter and was thus out of his telescope's field-of-view, or two of the moons were too close together, during subsequent nights, until January 13, when he was able to see all four for the first time.

Wikipedia is wrong on one point. True, his first observation of all four moon at once didn't come until January 13 and he didn't realize that there were four and not three until that time, but that doesn't mean that one moon's discovery (in Wikipedia's case, Ganymede) should be attributed to that date. By that point, he had observed all four on multiple occasions, just not all four at once. And to that point he hadn't even come to the conclusion that they were in orbit around Jupiter with their own separate orbits, moving a different speeds, until two days later, let alone ascribe identities to each of the stars he saw, connecting one star he saw with another from a different day, beyond the one to the east, the one to the west, and the one in the middle.

Re:Happy Io Discovery Day, /. (0, Offtopic)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689054)

Wikipedia is wrong on one point.

So fix it.

Re:Happy Io Discovery Day, /. (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690230)

Definitely a good time to check out Jupiter and the four Galilean moons

Yes it was - a beautiful view though at -24C outside it was a tad on the cold side! The moons were nicely balanced two on each side. Now my kids can say that they saw the Galilean satellites for the first time exactly 400 years after Galileo first saw (three of) them - thank you Slashdot!

A little ignorance never hurt anyone, eh? (4, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689080)

further evidence against Aristotelian Cosmology, which led to problems with the Roman Catholic Church, etc...

I know that people who repeat such things are only showing their ignorance (heck, even Wikipedia explains the controversy better), but I feel this lie gets repeated often enough that it should be addressed.

According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

In its opening passage, Galileo and Guiducci's Discourse gratuitously insulted the Jesuit Christopher Scheiner,[56] and various uncomplimentary remarks about the professors of the Collegio Romano were scattered throughout the work.[57] The Jesuits were offended,[58] and Grassi soon replied with a polemical tract of his own, The Astronomical and Philosophical Balance ,[59] under the pseudonym Lothario Sarsio Sigensano,[60] purporting to be one of his own pupils.

And later:

Pope Urban VIII personally asked Galileo to give arguments for and against heliocentrism in the book,

Indeed, it was Galileo's political antagonism, not his ideas, that got him trouble. Imagine that.

There is a very simple question one can ask to determine if a someone is genuinely objective and dispassionate in their search for the truth:

  • Does the Church suppress science?

The manner in which this question is answered is often quite revealing:

  1. Someone with no critical thinking skills, nor ability to understand anything but absolutes, will almost invariably mention Galileo and blame the Church for suppressing science and free thought. The irony, of course, is that it's a moot point: it hardly matters if free thought is suppressed when the speaker goes to considerable lengths to avoid doing so. Even though he may publicly laud free inquiry and study, he simply dismisses any source which disagrees with his predisposed notions of the world.
  2. Someone who answers that "there's no proof" that Galileo is correct is probably heading off on a tangent which will end in a discussion about evolution. Again, probably not a very insightful individual, but at least his own views are consistent with his internal model of the world.
  3. Someone who explains that while the Church did create the university system; and continues to fund science to this day; while also allowing that at times in the past it has been used for political ends is probably someone with a very educated opinion. He's demonstrated the ability to deal with concepts in varying degrees, and to understand the difference between a *political* objection, and a doctrinal one.

In much the same way that there exist Creationists who refuse to accept any evidence contrary to their opinion, even to the point of committing logical fallacies, there exist individuals who really don't read history, and just blindly accept whatever they've been told. Worse, they often repeat things which are provably false, which - aside from the damage done to the Church - call into question their ability to think rationally and perform rigorous analysis.

The Galileo fiasco - that is, the belief that the Church is somehow anti-science because of what happened to Galileo - is an interesting teaching moment. The outworn argument against Creationists, Flat-Earthers, Global-Warming deniers, etc... has always been that science is objective, dispassionate. And yet, in the Galileo fiasco, you have people who in matters of science are otherwise logical and objective, repeating something they know (or should know) is false.

Interesting.

It seems the failings of human nature apply to everyone, after all.

Re:A little ignorance never hurt anyone, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689424)

By your own admission the Church responded to gratuitous insults and uncomplimentary remarks with the threat of the inquisition and the actual house imprisonment of the offender as well as suppressing the offending books. As an American I find these actions fundamentally in conflict with the principles our country was founded upon. I suspect the Church has learned little in the ensuing centuries and would respond in a similar fashion today if it only had sufficient power and influence.

Re:A little ignorance never hurt anyone, eh? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689560)

There is no doubt that the Church in that period was an oppressive force.

On the other hand there is the question of whether the Church oppressed science because science itself offended them, and the answer is largely no.

Re:A little ignorance never hurt anyone, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30689440)

Science is dispassionate, that doesn't mean the scientist have to be weak, meek, and keep their heads down for fear of pissing off some fools or otherwise. This is the problem we have today, just look at the crap church nutters repeatedly attempt to get into the science curriculum. Note: the "science" lessons, not philosophy or religious studies.

Re:A little ignorance never hurt anyone, eh? (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689728)

I've read extensively on the Galileo incident and I see no reason to change the the long accepted wisdom that it is a classic case of conflict between religious dogma and authority against scientific investigation..

I have however encountered quite a large number of people who have been persuaded by recent post-modernist type logic that in fact no; it was perfect alright and indeed correct for the church to threaten to burn Galileo alive because either/or
1) He was rude,
2) His finding would overturn centuries of dogma
3) Galileo's concrete observations were not good enough because he lacked the mathematics to describe them

Needless to say, I find such arguments unconvincing.

The Catholic church suppressed science. They threatened to kill Galileo and forced him to retract his theories. People often forget that last part. Galileo went to his grave holding that the Sun went around the Earth. You don't believe me? There's an official confession signed by him to that effect? You think he privately though otherwise? Tough; that confession is the end of the story. The church got what it wanted. Galileo and his works were suppressed.

I don't know exactly where this new apologia for the churches behaviour in the Galileo affair comes from, but I suspect it has more to do with US Culture Wars than actual critical thinking. Ironic, as for years the Galileo affair was a classic incident that Protestants held as demonstrating the abusive and backward position of the Catholic church. It's unfortunate that the relevant Wikipedia pages have been dragged into such revisionism, and in so doing have given it far more credit than it deserves. That's just another problem with Wikipedia and its monopoly on knowledge and viewpoints, but I'll leave that rant for another day.

Re:A little ignorance never hurt anyone, eh? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689894)

It wasn't correct, but it's just why they did it. He was challenging the authority of the Pope at a time when Martin Luther was kicking up a fuss and he was easier to put down than Martin Luther. Even a few of the Cardinals agreed that Galileo was correct and voted against the Pope.
It was really all about authoritarian politics.

Re:A little ignorance never hurt anyone, eh? (5, Interesting)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690320)

Thank you, this exact issue has been pissing me off for quite a while now. There's been a rather substantial movement to retroactive validate the Church's behavior toward Galileo for about a decade (maybe more, but that's how long I've been watching it). Galileo wasn't the most politically astute or generous person to his enemies, but he also didn't deserve the stuff the Church sent at him. The folio with his Inquisition record, for example, was clearly tampered with, with documents clearly added into places to make them appear older than they were.

In the end, Galileo's only defense should have been that his book was allowed by the Church censors. If there had been anything objectionable in it, they should have caught it and shot the book down. Failing that, they should have taken the blame, not Galileo.

As for making Simplicio a parody of Pope Urban, the only thing I've ever heard of that indicates that this was the goal was one quote from Urban put into Simplicio's* mouth. One quote a parody does not make; it's more likely (in my mind, anyway) that Galileo was trying to address one of Urban's objections and was clumsy in how he presented it. (On the other hand, as soon as it was found in the book, Galileo's enemies in the Church went to the Pope to decry Galileo. Note that the Pope didn't get offended on his own, he was goaded into offense.)

* Also note that the name was based on a real historical figure's name.

Re:A little ignorance never hurt anyone, eh? (1)

Joe Torres (939784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690366)

Did the Church suppress science? "I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei, Florentine, aged 70 years, arraigned personally before this tribunal, and kneeling before You, Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, Inquisitors-General against heretical depravity throughout the Christian commonwealth, having before my eyes and touching with my hands the Holy Gospels, swear that I have always believed, I believe now, and with God's help I will in future believe all that is held, preached, and taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. But whereas - after having been admonished by this Holy Office entirely to 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 same and that it moves, and that I must not hold, defend, nor teach in any manner whatever, either orally or in writing the said false doctrine..." I may be thinking in absolutes, but "Galileo's political antagonism" does not justify this forced retraction.

Heliocentrism wasn't the problem (4, Interesting)

afortaleza (791264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689172)

Heliocentrism was NEVER a problem for the Catholic Church, Copernicus never had a problem with that many years earlier. Galileo was the pope's cousin and constantly defied the pope on his writings, never touching heliocentrism, heliocentrism was just the way they used to get him some punishment.

Topical for once (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689280)

Now that's what I call news!

It's been 400 years? Do you know what that means? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689312)

39 years ago (in 1981), the Catholic Church finally got around to forgiving Galileo for insisting that the Earth was not the center of the universe! Nobody can say the Pope isn't up to speed on all the latest issues!

Sigh... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689336)

Correction, it was 18 years ago, in 1992 that the Church forgave Galileo.

history (2, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689364)

OK, the moons themselves are much older...

Oh really? How do you know? Until they were observed, they might have been indeterminate. Paging Schrodinger!

Re:history (1)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690402)

meow?

Anniversary (1)

machine321 (458769) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689368)

You have no proof the moons are older than 400 years...

The church isn't a bunch of biblical literalists (3, Interesting)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30689570)

I mean be fair. It's annoying when people talk about the RCC as a bunch of biblical literalists. (One step above creationists.) As a Catholic I can tell you they're not, they're control freaks. That's what they like, to control information. Then let that information out slowly. I mean they kept the bible and masses in Latin for centuries. (It's kind of hard to interpret the bible for yourself if you don't understand the language it's written in.) Of course there's loads of stuff that they did over the centuries where it's kind of hard to figure out where in the bible it said that.(Like indulgences. I still haven't heard an explaination for why we're supposed to eat fish on Fridays that made any sense.) Hell, go to a Catholic mass for once. It's all "Stand, sit, stand, kneel." It's like the priest is a gym teacher putting the parishioners through calisthenics.

Erh... I'm no astronomer, but... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30690082)

I have to admit I never looked through a telescope (well, aside of those times in college but it wasn't really pointed at the sky at that moment...), but doesn't something like that require observation over some time? Or are those moons so large that you immediately notice them as moons and not as some sort of stars that might not be visible without? Else I'd expect Gallileo to monitor them for some time, notice that they move around Jupiter and thus conclude that they must be moons.

400 Years Ago, Galileo Discovered Four Jovian Moon (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30690288)

And the G-Spot.

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