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Galileo: Right On the Solar System, Wrong On Ice

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the you-can't-be-right-all-the-time dept.

Space 206

carmendrahl writes "Famed astronomer Galileo Galilei is best known for taking on the Catholic Church by championing the idea that the Earth moves around the sun. But he also engaged in a debate with a philosopher about why ice floats on water. While his primary arguments were correct, he went too far, belittling legitimate, contradictory evidence given by his opponent, Ludovico delle Colombe. Galileo's erroneous arguments during the water debate are a useful reminder that the path to scientific enlightenment is not often direct and that even our intellectual heroes can sometimes be wrong."

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Right for the wrong reasons (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680073)

I remember reading somewhere that another opponent, possibly the same in the blurb, had the same complaints about the heliocentric system. While he believed it to be true as well, he found Galileo's reasons as to why were erroneous, and fought over these 'wrong reasons'.

Re:Right for the wrong reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680409)

To be honest, I never got what the big deal was about... if you invoke a -- Galilean! -- transformation, you can have them both spinning around whatever you want, no? Just the math works out better if you pick this nice one where the earth goes around the sun.

If I was teaching physics, and there were people that didn't believe the earth went around the sun, I'd just say "use whatever coordinate system you want, but I'm not helping you with the math". I think that would settle the problem.

Re:Right for the wrong reasons (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | about a year ago | (#44681003)

This just in: 17th century physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher may have gone too far...

Re:Right for the wrong reasons (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year ago | (#44680413)

That "Other Opponent" happened to the the Pope.

Re:Right for the wrong reasons (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#44680589)

Yeah, Galileo thought the Earth's motion around the sun caused the tides (not the Moon). That essentially the water was "sloshing" around the Earth as it rotated, and that proved the Earth was moving. Since this is, well, wrong, (basically everyone knew the tides were connected to the Moon, if not why) it's hardly surprising most of the scientists of the day disagreed with him. Well, that and he called his opponents simpletons. Name-calling doesn't tend to win friends and influence people.

Re:Right for the wrong reasons (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44681145)

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. - Albert Einstein

Re:Right for the wrong reasons (3, Funny)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year ago | (#44681247)

Yes, but anyone who is making a mistake and insulting people over it = an ass.

Galileo Galilei was an ASStronomer!!!

Re:Right for the wrong reasons (5, Interesting)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#44680651)

Galileo's not the only Great Man of Science to gain his fame out of sheer assholery. Louis Pasteur, for example, "proved" the nonexistence of spontaneous generation by falsifying his notes and by forcing a prominent critic, Felix Pouchet, to withdraw from experimental competition by a combination of intimidation and biased "independent" panels. Later science proved that Pasteur had the right general idea, of course, but in his specific experiments facing off against Pouchet (the famous "swan-necked flasks") he was actually mistaken. Had Pasteur not been such an asshole, Pouchet would not have withdrawn from competition and would have won.

It just goes to show that sociopaths running the world is not a new phenomenon.

Re:Right for the wrong reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680759)

His explanation about tides were completely wrong too.

Re:Right for the wrong reasons (5, Informative)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | about a year ago | (#44681183)

Galileo was NOT incorrect about why ice floats. He was incorrect about why a wafer of ebony floats while a ball of ebony does not. From TFA:

Delle Colombe’s basic premise was that ice was the solid form of water, therefore it was more dense than water. He argued that buoyancy was “a matter of shape only,” Caruana explained. “It had nothing to do with density.”
. . .
And Galileo’s primary argument for floating ice was correctly based on Archimedes’ density theory, wherein an object in water experiences a buoyant force equal to the weight of water it displaces. Because ice is less dense than liquid water, it will always float on liquid water.
. . .
On the third day of the debate, delle Colombe stole the show with a crowd-pleasing experiment, Caruana said. Delle Colombe presented a sphere of ebony to the audience. The sphere was placed on the surface of the water, and it began to sink. Then delle Colombe took a thin wafer of ebony and placed it on the surface of the water, where it floated. Because the density of both the wafer and the sphere of ebony were the same, delle Colombe announced that density had nothing to do with buoyancy and that an object’s shape was all that mattered.
. . .
Galileo argued that the thin volume of air, above the wafer but below the surface of the water, had somehow united with the ebony wafer. Thus, the density of the hybrid ebony-and-air object was the average of the density of ebony and the density of air. This average density was less than the density of liquid water, thus the ebony wafer (plus air) could float on water.

Thus, according to the article, Galileo was absolutely correct about why ice floats. He only gave an improper explanation of why his opponent's ebony show didn't disprove his explanation, and thus this article was a waste of time, and, honestly, I feel a bit misled. After actually reading TFA (which is rare for me, I will admit) I ended up more convinced that Galileo was a freaking smart dude, way ahead of his time, which was exactly the opposite of the purpose of the article. It seems like they would have been better off writing about Newton and his supposed quest for alchemy.

Unless the subject is climate change (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680113)

In which case, humanity is the evil scourge of the Earth and all dissent must be silenced.

Re:Unless the subject is climate change (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680421)

Even if man-made climate change is false, reducing the fucking atmospheric pollution is a good damn idea. Any retard claiming that the atmosphere is a endless dump for trash gas deserve no consideration and I will not lose any sleep if they are 'silenced' by been proven idiot. In other words, ignoring all evidences, you got everything to gain for been cautious and everything to lose for trusting the deniers.

Do everyone a favour by going breath auto-mobile exhaust, it is so harmless after all. Thanks.

Re:Unless the subject is climate change (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44680537)

Even if man-made climate change is false, reducing the fucking atmospheric pollution is a good damn idea.

Carbon dioxide isn't a pollutant. And much of the increase in real atmospheric pollution is a result of the Greens demanding that Western nations reduce CO2 emissions, so we shipped all our factories to China, where they burn coal without a care in the world about where the pollution goes.

Re:Unless the subject is climate change (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44681017)

Carbon dioxide isn't a pollutant.

If you give me a little water, I will drink it. If you give me a lot of water, I will drown.

Re:Unless the subject is climate change (1)

Onos (1103517) | about a year ago | (#44680551)

CO2 is not trash gas, it's actually quite fundamental for life. What kills you (some other gases too) from auto exhaust is generally CO. Chemistry hard.

Re:Unless the subject is climate change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680803)

He mentioned CO2 where, exactly?

Re:Unless the subject is climate change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680727)

It's BEING not been....

Re:Unless the subject is climate change (1, Flamebait)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#44680853)

Even if man-made climate change is false, reducing the fucking atmospheric pollution is a good damn idea.

Quite agree. And there is a long list of pollutants spoiling our air and water. CO2 is not one of them.

Do everyone a favour by going breath auto-mobile exhaust

Great - another idiot that can't tell the difference between CO and CO2.

Re:Unless the subject is climate change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44681111)

another idiot that can't tell the difference between CO and CO2.

You do know there's both in car exhaust, right?

And either one in high enough concentrations can kill you.

Re:Unless the subject is climate change (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44681115)

Please do quote where CO or CO2 was referred in the OP? You can't because you are a faggot.

More false history (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680115)

Galileo Galilei was an asshole. That was the start of his problem. He partially recreated the work of Copernicus (who had no conflict with Catholicism while proving heliocentricity), but then stopped about 3/4 of the way and filled the rest with evidence-free assertions. He never did provide evidence for those assertions (which have since been found to be wrong), but he did write a 'dialogue' to defend his claims where he (accidentally?) used a nickname for the Pope of the time as the name of his ignorant questioner character.

Once the Pope thought he was being directly insulted, things went downhill fast.

Looks like the same pattern with this story about water, no surprise to anyone who actually knows a bit of history.

Re:More false history (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#44680231)

Why should the Pope being insulted have anything to do with whether the earth moves around the sun? Why are you making ad hominem attacks against Galileo, and throwing out your own "evidence-free" assertions that he made "evidence-free" assertions? What does someone thinking someone else is an asshole have anything to do with their actual science?

Re:More false history (3, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44680287)

Why are you making ad hominem attacks against Galileo, and throwing out your own "evidence-free" assertions that he made "evidence-free" assertions? What does someone thinking someone else is an asshole have anything to do with their actual science?

To answer the first question: it's pretty solidly researched and can be backed up with manuscripts. If he was that bad when things were written down, he was unlikely to be much better in person (especially considering the written accounts about in-person meetings reflect the other manuscripts).

To answer the second: Nothing -- but this "historical reflection" article doesn't have much to do with science; it's a "history" article, and as such, is open to ad hominem attacks.

Now if the original submission had been submitted under the headline of "new scientific finding proves some of Galileo's theories and disproves others" (and was backed up by research linked in the summary) you'd have a point.

Re:More false history (0)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#44680407)

So you're making ad hominem attacks because it's fun? Okay, as long as we all realize that's what's going on :)

Re:More false history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680333)

Because it was Galileo that was using the Ad Hom against the Pope. What he did was created a character and called him Placincio which was the equivalent of calling the character Simpleton, and then put the Popes argument and questions into that character.

Re:More false history (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#44680391)

So this isn't about the arguments and questions, but about the name? Isn't that Ad Hominem? You're not arguing with the reasoning but against the person that made the reasoning.

In other words if Galileo had called the character "His Holiness" would that have affected the reasoning presented?

Re:More false history (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680535)

Galileo went out of his way to make the character to look foolish, and to be as much of a Simpleton as possible. If he had simply stated the arguments rather than go into a functional story to make someone, via parody, to look like an idiot there wouldn't be much historical evidence showing that Galileo was an Ass and an Idiot. However, as with most parody of this kind, the person being made fun of took offence, and since prior to that point they were friends he probably took it more then a little personal. This particular friend just happened to be the Pope, and took it out on Galileo for it. Galileo clearly passed the Attila the Hun School of Charm, and was as friendly as Brutus and Julius.

Re:More false history (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44680359)

What does someone thinking someone else is an asshole have anything to do with their actual science?

It can lead to confirmation bias -- looking only for evidence that proves the other guy wrong, instead of maintaining scientific integrity.

In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

-Carl Sagan

(Emphasis added)

Re: More false history (2, Informative)

will_die (586523) | about a year ago | (#44680451)

The Pope gave him a chance to prove his idea and he could not. It was when he would not stop saying that the main scientific thinking of the day, based on the works of Aristotle, were wrong that he got house arrest.
Before you complain about that it is very much around today present the same amount of scientific research against a popular mainstream thinking and the scientist of today will call for you to be fired and blacklisted.

Re:More false history (2)

Xtifr (1323) | about a year ago | (#44680619)

Why should the Pope being insulted have anything to do with whether the earth moves around the sun?

Who said it did? OP certainly didn't. He merely asserted that Galileo was an asshole. Which I don't think is much of a stretch.

The fact is that while Copernicus should be (and is) credited with the heliocentric model, he was careful to assert that it was purely a model that made calculations easier (none of the epicycle nonsense required). He never claimed it was a fact; he merely described it as a useful tool. But, if Galileo hadn't come along to turn the whole thing into a political issue, it's quite possible that the Church would have been more willing to accept that this new model worked better because it actually reflected reality, and might well have accepted it a lot sooner than they actually did. Especially when you factor in the discovery of the Galilean moons, which is something Galileo deserves full credit for.

Re:More false history (2)

Endovior (2450520) | about a year ago | (#44681097)

Why should the Pope being insulted have anything to do with whether the earth moves around the sun? Why are you making ad hominem attacks against Galileo, and throwing out your own "evidence-free" assertions that he made "evidence-free" assertions? What does someone thinking someone else is an asshole have anything to do with their actual science?

To provide an example of Galileo's "evidence-free assertions": in an earlier work of his [wikipedia.org] , he asserted that comets were simply optical illusions, without much evidence to back up his claim, largely to score some points off a rival, and attempt to curry favor with the Pope (the same Pope which he later insulted, notably). His rival actually had a mathematical argument in favor of his position on comets, which (beyond the fact that the guy was, y'know, actually correct) did kind of mean he was doing better science than Galileo.

Re:More false history (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#44681105)

The first rule of dealing with medieval absolute monarchs is... ...don't insult medieval absolute monarchs.

Re:More false history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680273)

Looks like the same pattern with this story about water, no surprise to anyone who actually knows a bit of history.

Or Italians... :ducks:

Re:More false history (1)

pezpunk (205653) | about a year ago | (#44680305)

not sure how calling out the Pope makes him an asshole. More power to him.

Re:More false history (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44680495)

He partially recreated the work of Copernicus ... but then stopped about 3/4 of the way and filled the rest with evidence-free assertions

The scientific method was in its infancy when Galileo did his research. The fact that he didn't uphold what we'd call an acceptable standard of scientific integrity does not detract from the importance of his methods. He helped get off the ground the idea that experiment, rather than preconceptions (what his contemporaries called "reason") is the way to establish scientific fact.

And yes, from what I know of his life, he does seem like an asshole. So what? Lots of assholes have done good in the world.

Re:More false history (2)

taustin (171655) | about a year ago | (#44680519)

Speaking of false history, Copernicus didn't "prove" heliocenticity. In fact, he only agree to let his work be published on his deathbead because he couldn't prove it.

And as a side note, neither could Galileo, though his use of the telescope was an important piece of the puzzle. But proof wasn't possible until Newton came up with (perhaps invtented, though that's arguable these days, too) calculus (and the idea that planetary orbits aren't perfectly circular).

But yeah, Galileo's real problem with the church was that he was an asshole, and humiliated and pissed off people with powerful friends. He'd have been right at home on the internet, where he would have been a legendary troll.

Re:More false history (1)

yesterdaystomorrow (1766850) | about a year ago | (#44680819)

Well, let's not be so impolite. Nevertheless, I agree that Galileo was strongly driven by his desire to win whatever debate he was involved in. This was a serious character flaw, and a big problem in his dealings with the Inquisition. They allowed him the out of saying that the Earth's motion was merely a convenient hypothesis. That would have been consistent with his argument that the Earth's motion was not detectable by its inhabitants because motion is relative. But he wouldn't take the next obvious step: if motion is relative, which objects you consider your fixed reference is arbitrary. He was certainly smart enough to see this, but his desire to win overtook his reasoning facilities, I think.

Re:More false history (0)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#44680825)

Galileo lifted natural philosophy to science, and helped end the reign of Popes who would thought murdering people was fun. There is no reason why someone should be so insecure that being directly insulted would cause any real harm. Only those who lack faith in the almighty and lack humility would think they are above criticism. It is like those in modern times whose faith is so weak that the fact that others do not agree with them is able to kill reduce their certainty of the almighty. No evidence would ever reduce by faith, but then my faith is not based on some assumption of superiority to other people or equality to the almighty.

It is always easy to debate by attacking the person rather than the ideas. The idea at the time was that knowledge comes from what was before, rather than observing what is in front of you. For example surface tension has to be broken for density to become the dominating factor in buoyancy, but saying Galileo is wrong on this issue is like saying Newtons laws are wrong because they implicitly assume that infinite speeds are possible. Technically one can say they are wrong, but practically it describes what we experience. In the case of ice, if we focus on the shape we do not discover that the crystalline structure of ice is what makes it an outlier.

The fact that we are still taking debates such as this indicates the power of the Church and other such power hungry and greedy agents to divert science from discoveries that help everyone to side alleys that only help the pharisees.

Debate with a philosopher? (1, Funny)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year ago | (#44680123)

Why would you debate why ice floats with a philosopher? The reason is that it is less dense. There is no philosophical reason why it floats. There is also no reason to bring wood, duck or witches into the question.

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680163)

1611 was a different place.

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (4, Funny)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#44680453)

And Europe was a different time.

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (4, Informative)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44680181)

At the time, science was seen as an offshoot of philosophy (natural philosophy).

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (3, Insightful)

hyperquantization (804651) | about a year ago | (#44680583)

...science was seen as an offshoot of philosophy...

And it remains a descendent: Science research eventually relies upon arguments set forth by Mathematics, which relies upon arguments set forth by Philosophy.

Heck, even the fact that you can have a logical argument relies upon the work of Philosophers. The biggest reason why modern Philosophers are not typically proficient Scientists boils down to the fact that they likely occupy their time reading different books, and thus aren't well-versed in the necessary esoterica.

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44681061)

That's being generous. Philosophy is historically a wide science, which incorporated many disciplines yet unnamed. But often, when those disciplines defined their area better, they quickly split off from Philosophy. In this case, Logic diverged and quickly moved into the domain of Math. In particular, "The Laws of Thought" was written by Boole, a professor of Mathematics.

And I'll be more critical of modern philosophers. The current outer boundary of philosophy and science is definitely physics: direction time, cause and effect. Perhaps with a dash of biology, working of the brain. This just requires a level of rigor which many modern philosophers lack. And I don't mean just the French post-modernists, but also Heidegger. The latter is an eminent observer of the human psyche, but don't expect a scientific breakthrough from him.

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#44681155)

The REAL reason modern Philosophers are not typically proficient Scientists or Mathematicians is that those fields became subjects beyond their ability to comprehend without a lot of effort, and save for a few exceptions they are uninterested in putting on the necessary effort to accomplish this goal, even when the branch of the philosophy in question is something like epistemology whose objective is to analyze knowledge. That is what makes modern Philosophy so useless.

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680201)

Because the name for chemistry/biology/physics before they had that name was "Natural Philosophy", hence why he was debating a Natural Philosopher. This predated modern scientific methods and rigor.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680349)

FTFA: A paper clip is more dense than water, but it can be made to float.

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680379)

-What also floats in water?
- Bread.
- Apples.
- Very small rocks.
- Cider! Great gravy.
- Cherries. Mud.
- Churches.
- Lead.
- A duck!
- Exactly.
- So, logically--
- If she weighs the same as a duck...
- she's made of wood.
- And therefore?
- A witch!

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680425)

shut up, faggot

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680593)

did someone get their feelings hurt?

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680905)

faggots [wiktionary.org] can float, too

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (2)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#44680381)

I would debate with a philosopher because it is less dense?

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44680395)

Your high school education has definitely failed you if you weren't taught about the origins of science. The road to absolute empirical clarity was a long one. (Isaac Newton was an occultist in his day!)

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680429)

Why would you debate why ice floats with a philosopher? The reason is that it is less dense. There is no philosophical reason why it floats. There is also no reason to bring wood, duck or witches into the question.

Okay, you pass Monty Python Knowledge, but you fail History of Science. Guess what, the predecessor of what we know as the sciences used to be known as "natural philosophy" and practiced by philosophers.

Given that Galileo was the first or one of the first natural philosophers to employ and advocate something approaching the scientific method, and thus (arguably; as with most such titles, enormous arguments arise over subtle changes in definition) the first or one of the first scientists (at least in the current western tradition, which has continued unbroken from the Renaissance to our time), there were no scientists to debate it with.

Do note that without an adequate understanding of gravity to derive buoyancy forces from first principles, there is really little solid basis for separating buoyancy from surface tension and declaring buoyancy to be uniquely related to density, thus "because it's less dense" is no real explanation to those of Galileo's time. Of course experiments could have been done to resolve the matter empirically, but Galileo was the only one in that area doing such experimental investigations, and what was he supposed to do? Not argue with the who-needs-experiments establishment of natural philosophy because they were so wrong it hurts? No, the only way to show that their way was wrong was to engage them and defeat them. (Sadly, this also proved a good way to get condemned a heretic and sentenced to house arrest.)

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680505)

There is also no reason to bring wood, duck or witches into the question.

Very small rocks.

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year ago | (#44680741)

Are you suggesting that a witch and a duck (and by extension, ice) do not have the same weight?

Re:Debate with a philosopher? (1)

wallsg (58203) | about a year ago | (#44680897)

Why would you debate why ice floats with a philosopher? The reason is that it is less dense. There is no philosophical reason why it floats. There is also no reason to bring wood, duck or witches into the question.

How can ice float? Can you build a bridge out of it?

Failure comes from humans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680161)

Science does not fail humans. Humans fail science.

Re:Failure comes from humans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680235)

Science does not fail humans. Humans fail science.

Except in Soviet Russia...

Wrong on ice... (3, Informative)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about a year ago | (#44680165)

If samzenpus had bothered to read the article, he would know that it explains, very clearly, that Galileo was right on the question of why ice floats. He was apparently wrong in some of the reasoning that he used to explain another effect (a disc of ebony floating on water due to surface tension).

Maybe samzenpus should go back to posting more science fiction...

Copernicus (-1, Flamebait)

SlashDev (627697) | about a year ago | (#44680179)

Sorry, it was Copernicus who championed the idea of heliocentrism (planets revolving around the sun) thus taking the earth out of the center of the universe model. Galileo was famed for the usage of the telescope to look at the heavens, the telescope had already been invented. In fact Galileo didn't invent or discover the things he is famous for, he simply marketed them..

Re:Copernicus (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44680279)

you are answering straw men and urban legend with more urban legend and straw people. An honest biography will educate you on what Galileo accomplished and what discoveries were uniquely his.

As for heliocentric theory, what Galileo did was use observations by telescope to support Copernicous' theory. He never ever claimed the theory as his own.

Re:Copernicus (5, Informative)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#44680343)

Aristarchus of Samos in the third century BC presented a theory of heliocentrism.

Copernicus knew about Aristarchus: the first version of his manuscript ("De revolutionibus orbium coelestium") contained the lines

'Philolaus believed in the earth's motion for these and similar reasons. This is plausible because Aristarchus of Samos too held the same view according to some people, who were not motivated by the argumentation put forward by Aristotle and rejected by him .'

Source: http://www.demokritos.org/Aristarchus%20and%20Copernicus-Petrakis.htm [demokritos.org]

Note: According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philolaus [wikipedia.org] Philolaus's theory also had the sun revolving around a "central fire". Aristarchus's theory was the first known heliocentric theory.

Why did science ignore Aristarchus for almost two millenia? One reason the Greeks used: "If the earth revolves around the sun, we should see parallax motion of the stars. We don't see parallax motion of the stars. Therefore, the earth doesn't revolve around the sun." But instead of improving their technology so they could see parallax motion, they spent their scientific energies devising epicycles.

Re:Copernicus (4, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#44680417)

But instead of improving their technology so they could see parallax motion, they spent their scientific energies devising epicycles.

To be fair, they believed the stars to be near enough that any parallax motion would be easily and obviously visible without improved technology. When weighed against having to massively expand the size of the universe, epicycles actually were the simpler concept.

Re:Copernicus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680375)

In fact Galileo didn't invent or discover the things he is famous for, he simply marketed them..

I thought he was famous mostly for dropping things off the Leaning Tower of Pisa onto passing tourists.

Yes, they may be wrong once in a while, (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a year ago | (#44680197)

but they aren't wrong ALL the time, and that's the best we can do.

Re:Yes, they may be wrong once in a while, (1)

Xtifr (1323) | about a year ago | (#44680405)

Or we can avoid the logical fallacy of argument from authority [wikipedia.org] , and remember that A) being an expert in one field does not make you an expert in others, and B) even experts can disagree. Roger Penrose may be a brilliant and gifted mathematician, but his speculations on the nature of consciousness remain purely speculative, and, until someone comes up with a testable hypothesis, all speculations on string theory remain equally plausible.

Seriously, how is this worth an entire article? This is a tiny, tiny part of logic 101.

Obviously... (2, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#44680213)

Ice floats because it's a witch [qedcat.com] .

Re: Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680435)

But only if it weights as much as a duck.

Re:Obviously... (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year ago | (#44680755)

Then why don't ducks melt?

Wrong wrong story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680225)

The people (the literate one I mean) already knew the Earth (and the other planes) was orbiting the sun.

Just like everyone literate knew the Earth was not flat.

The problem was that Galileo was denying the faith truth with pure math, that is with his own mind.
When you use your intelligence, there is no room for the faith.

Slashdot... redefining news. (0)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44680249)

We've had dupes on here... we've had old stuff, but this is a new low. Now we're getting a summary about a debate that happened centuries ago, and then having parts of it attributed to the wrong people (Galileo != Copernicus), history as to the person's character rewritten (Galileo was a muleheaded jerk who got some stuff right, some stuff wrong, but generally said the wrong things at the wrong time, and wouldn't back down -- generally fabricated proofs for other people's well-researched conclusions that stood up under a light glance, but often failed under examination, etc.), and then completely misunderstands the article the summary is linking to.

Oh well... we all come here for the comments anyway (which usually follow all of the above failures 80% of the time).

Re:Slashdot... redefining news. (4, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | about a year ago | (#44680351)

...Now we're getting a summary about a debate that happened centuries ago...

First posted in 1611. Don't forget about the dupes in 1650, 1701, 1784, 1823, 1824, 1891, 1911, 1938, and 1992.

Re:Slashdot... redefining news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680661)

The summary reads like one of my son's Horrible Science books. News for 9 year olds, stuff that matters.

Not front page news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680307)

nothing to see here. move along.

One useful thing I learnt from the article. (1)

hamster_nz (656572) | about a year ago | (#44680319)

Paper-clips float on water, if you place them in flat and very carefully.

I just had to raid the office supplies cabinet and try it...

Re:One useful thing I learnt from the article. (2)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#44680387)

Please define useful.

Re:One useful thing I learnt from the article. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680579)

#define USEFUL 0

--sf

Re:One useful thing I learnt from the article. (2)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#44680673)

Paper-clips float on water, if you place them in flat and very carefully.
I just had to raid the office supplies cabinet and try it...

I hear that super-tankers [wikipedia.org] do too, though I can't test that myself as our office supply cabinet is fresh out.

And yet, over the next week... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680331)

...Slashdot will still publish 5 stories about how Anthropocentric Global Warming is accepted scientific fact and how anyone questioning it is an evil denier...

Re:And yet, over the next week... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680561)

Yes, its all a giant conspiracy by the NWO controlled scientists.

Bad Summary, Galileo was Correct On Ice (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44680339)

Galileo was right about why ice floats, it is less dense than water and buoyant force comes into equilibrium with weight when a portion of ice is out of the water.

The only thing "wrong" presented in article was small matter of shape under extraordinary conditions where surface tension can dominate over lack of buoyancy.

Re:Bad Summary, Galileo was Correct On Ice (2)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#44680467)

His wrongness was definitely a bit oversold. That said, he was wrong in the strength of his assertion. I have a pet peeve with overly stubborn reductionist thinkers that assert things like "The only reason X happens is because of Y." It's rarely the case that one measurable quantity provides a complete explanation. The look on his face when the wafer of ebony floated must have been priceless. I can just imagine how much of a dick he was being. "But... but... it's the air... or something... YOU CHEATED! I'M STILL RIGHT!"

Re:Bad Summary, Galileo was Correct On Ice (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#44680729)

I'm surprised no one caught onto surface tension, you can see it by slightly overfilling glass, a wibbly wobbly bubble (to use technical terms) held together by surface tension can be made to extend beyond and above the rim

Re:Bad Summary, Galileo was Correct On Ice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680899)

Glassware itself was high-tech in the 16th century.

I'm sure in a few hundred years someone's going to be like "I can't figure out why they couldn't figure out that thing that every tunneling diode does, it would've been perfectly obvious!"

Re:Bad Summary, Galileo was Correct On Ice (1)

Ch_Omega (532549) | about a year ago | (#44680997)

I'm surprised no one caught onto surface tension

Obiously someone caught onto surface tension, or you wouldn't have been able to make that comment. :)

Re:Bad Summary, Galileo was Correct On Ice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44681287)

The only thing "wrong" presented in article was small matter of shape under extraordinary conditions where surface tension can dominate over lack of buoyancy.

And while we're at it, the "wrong" experiment - if you didn't know about density or surface tension - provided at least some evidence for the incorrect hypothesis that buoyancy wa a function of shape. Sphere of substance X sinks in liquid Y, disc of substance X floats in liquid Y. Reproducible experiment for ebony, water, and spheres and discs.

Disprovable if you try to repeat the experiment with different "X" and "Y", where "X" is in different shapes, or "Y" has different surface tensions, and you'd eventually discover surface tension if you followed up on Galileo's observation that the water around the ebony disc was higher than the surface of a disc itself.

Chemical and Engineering News? (2)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#44680367)

From TFA

Galileo argued that comets were optical illusions (they are most definitely physical objects) and that ocean tides were the result of oceans sloshing around from Earth’s rotation (tides have more to do with the moon’s gravitational pull).

Did anyone else find it strange that a page called "Chemical & Engineering News" would need to point out that comets are real and that the moon's gravity is a factor in the cause of tides?

The Modern Way (3, Insightful)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#44680433)

He was ignorant of modern scientific efforts. Nowadays, we take a vote among political activists, come up with a consensus, and ridicule anyone who believes in the minority. We don't need any of that mathematical proof or experimental evidence crap. It saves a lot of time. As soon as you have a majority, you can start belittling everyone else.

We are no longer hobbled by those ancient, useless beliefs, like "the scientific method". Ours is the enlightened age!

Re:The Modern Way (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44680563)

Nah, you don't even need a majority. You just need to claim you have a majority and have friends in the media who'll mindlessly parrot whatever crap you send them.

Re:The Modern Way (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44680601)

This is exactly my thought when reading this. You bring up a flat earth and people shoot you down immediately, no discussion at all. Don't even get me started on the attacks I receive for creationism or my support of the time cube.

Re:The Modern Way (1, Insightful)

Glock27 (446276) | about a year ago | (#44680923)

Oh yeah, the "flat earth" theory of global warming "denialism". The actual FACT is that "global warming" hasn't been observed for quite a while. We'll see if and when it crops up again. It just may be that the current solar Grand Minimum will be a factor...

Denier (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#44680801)

Although Galileo’s explanation for why ice floats on water was closer to the truth than his opponent’s arguments, Galileo also belittled legitimate, contradictory evidence given by his opponent

So did he call him a denier, or claim he was on the payroll of the someone with questionable motives?

Don't bet against Galileo (1)

Glock27 (446276) | about a year ago | (#44680887)

Although Galileo’s explanation for why ice floats on water was closer to the truth than his opponent’s arguments...

Of COURSE the almighty Galileo was right! (heh)

Wooden Witches (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44681029)

Ice floats on water because it's made of wooden witches, duh.

Galileo Did Not Take On The Catholic Church (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44681123)

The Church took Galileo on. And it did not take Galileo on for his evidence of solarcentrism, it took him on for his style presenting his viewpoint, which made the traditional view holding party in his "dialog" (between three parties) propound ideas so they sounded idiotic and the character sounded an idiot offering them. Galileo had a good number of supporters for his scientific and mathematical methods in the Church, and his undiplomatic presentation put them into a bind, they having already spoken for him and his work. They had expected Galileo to write to convince instead of belittle.

Today, with science "on top" we have a lot of "Why should Galileo have had to be conciderate to anyone?", from a lot of assumption-educated people who have learnt nothing, and so know nothing of the history of science and the slowed struggle, slowed progress and lost chances to research, or research effectively, and even lost lives that resulted from Galileo's antagonizing presentation style hardening science's opponents' positions. Today we still have "scientific" ignoramuses doing the same thing, antagonizing by crusading, advocating Evolution through engaging in religious war with Creationists, making Evolution a religion and hardening positions in oppositions, instead of correlating them. They do so for the same reasons Galileo engaged in antagonism, that being antagonistic gives an adrenalin rush and so is energizing and so seems fun.

The Big Issue with Galileo (2, Informative)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year ago | (#44681231)

Is that he was an arrogant ass and often wrong. The Catholic church did not have issue with Galileo's heliocentric view, in fact, the Catholic church has a method to accept and alter their understandings of such natural actions.

The issue is that Galileo's arguments left doubt. Ironically, there were some contemporaries whose work could have aided Galileo's proof of his view. However, he has pretty much dismissed those individuals and their works as wrong. And done so extremely rudely.

The real issue of Galileo's is that he came out postulating "FACT" while by-passing the equivalent of "peer review" for the day. The pope was actually rather fond of Galileo and his work. But refused to acknowledge Galileo's theories as fact, despite his fondness. Then Galileo chose to be a bigger arse. And wrote a book publicly insulting the Pope. It's funny, as we still have this issue in science today over peer review, and early publication statements.

Do you know what the big punishment was? I've read comments deriding the church for executing Galileo. When in truth, Galileo was given a backhanded patronage. He was put on a house arrest. But pretty much had most of his means taken care of, was free to continue his work. It was essentially a public censure.

Ironically, I was unaware of most of these facts until a few years ago. When reading the 1632 series, I started to research Galileo Galilei.

"The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could be supported as only a possibility, not an established fact."

That is not obstruction of science by the church, pope, nada. That is merely saying "Hey, before you declare something as fact, you need to be able to prove it."

Alas, the failure of science here, is to hide this blemish in the failure of history. So we go and teach how Galileo was persecuted for thinking differently. No, Galileo was in trouble for being a rude arrogant ass who couldn't back up his claims.

Galileo was not wrong about ice. (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a year ago | (#44681297)

Galileo was not wrong about ice at all! Read TFA and you will see it plain as day, the submitted topic is absolutely wrong. Galileo stated that density is why ice floats, where the person he was debating claimed it was all shape. Galileo was more correct than the person he was debating.

Galileo was wrong with reasoning for an experiment his opponent had, and kind of wrong about the objects shape having the ability to make an object float. Surface tension was unknown at the time, and surface tension while present is not always relevant where displacement is always relevant.

If you read TFA regarding the ebony experiment, you will see what Galileo was wrong about.

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