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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Today, Galileo’s discoveries seem obvious

Kathryn Cook for The New York Times
The story of Galileo Galilei demonstrates many things, not least of which is that science keeps evolving.
It was today in 1633 that the Italian scholar was forced to renounce what we now accept as fact: that the earth orbits the sun, not the other way around.
His discovery of Jupiter’s larger moons in 1610 made him question the prevailing assumption that the earth was at the universe’s center.
His advocacy of the heliocentric theory earned him mockery, censure and, in 1633, a trial in Rome, during which he was forced to recant before a jury of cardinals. He vowed that he would “abjure, curse, and detest” his findings.
The declaration saved him from being burned at the stake but led to eight years of house arrest.
It took the Roman Catholic Church more than 350 years, until 1992, to acknowledge that Galileo had been wronged (although astronomers now tell us that the sun is not immobile, but orbits within the galaxy, pulling the planets along with it).
Today, Galileo’s discoveries seem obvious. But all things are easy to understand once they have been discovered, he wrote. “The point is in being able to discover them.”
Patrick Boehler contributed reporting.

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