2021 discount Galileo: outlet sale And the popular Science Deniers online sale

2021 discount Galileo: outlet sale And the popular Science Deniers online sale

2021 discount Galileo: outlet sale And the popular Science Deniers online sale
2021 discount Galileo: outlet sale And the popular Science Deniers online sale__front

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Product Description

A fresh interpretation of the life of Galileo Galilei, one of history’s greatest and most fascinating scientists, that sheds new light on his discoveries and how he was challenged by science deniers. “We really need this story now, because we’re living through the next chapter of science denial” (Bill McKibben).

Galileo’s story may be more relevant today than ever before. At present, we face enormous crises—such as the minimization of the dangers of climate change—because the science behind these threats is erroneously questioned or ignored. Galileo encountered this problem 400 years ago. His discoveries, based on careful observations and ingenious experiments, contradicted conventional wisdom and the teachings of the church at the time. Consequently, in a blatant assault on freedom of thought, his books were forbidden by church authorities.

Astrophysicist and bestselling author Mario Livio draws on his own scientific expertise to provide captivating insights into how Galileo reached his bold new conclusions about the cosmos and the laws of nature. A freethinker who followed the evidence wherever it led him, Galileo was one of the most significant figures behind the scientific revolution. He believed that every educated person should know science as well as literature, and insisted on reaching the widest audience possible, publishing his books in Italian rather than Latin.

Galileo was put on trial with his life in the balance for refusing to renounce his scientific convictions. He remains a hero and inspiration to scientists and all of those who respect science—which, as Livio reminds us in this gripping book, remains threatened even today.

Review

“One would have hoped that the Galileo story could be treated just as the fascinating history this book makes clear it is—but we really need this story now, because we’re living through the next chapter of science denial, with stakes that couldn’t be higher.” -- Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

“Every so often a reason arises to retell the life of Galileo. This year, as Mario Livio so forcefully demonstrates in  Galileo and the Science Deniers, the 400-year Galileo Affair casts an urgent new light on the current climate crisis.” -- Dava Sobel, author of Longitude, Galileo’s Daughter, and The Glass Universe

"Few historical episodes are more fraught with subtleties, ironies and ambiguities. To tell it properly requires  an unusual breadth of knowledge and the gifts of a great storyteller. Fortunately, Mario Livio is fully equipped for the task. . . . [Livio] tells the story of Galileo in a perceptive, illuminating and balanced way." -- Stephen M. Barr ― The Washington Post

One of Symmetry''s Top Physics Books of the Year

"Astrophysicist Mario Livio couldn’t be more timely in this new treatment of the mind and methods of the founder of modern science." -- Mike Perricone ― Symmetry Magazine

Galileo and the Science Deniers delivers a fresh assessment of the life of a scientific legend. . . . Livio also set out to produce a biography more accessible to a general reader than the typical scholarly tomes. And he succeeded. His commentaries comparing Galileo’s time to today’s are weaved into an engagingly composed and pleasantly readable account." -- Tom Siegfried ― Science News

"Livio has added to the canon an accessible and scientific narrative, in which a profound love for Galileo shines through." -- Alison Abbott ― Nature.com

"Livio’s gift for clear and cogent writing . . . makes this a welcome addition to the already voluminous literature on Galileo and the Church."  -- Laurence A. Marschall ― Natural History

"[An] admirably clear and concise account of the Galileo affair." -- David Aaronovitch ― The London Times

"Livio beautifully describes both Galileo''s work and his struggle for intellectual freedom. Livio is perfectly placed to do this. An astrophysicist himself, he has worked on a great-great-great-grandchild of the telescopes that Galileo employed, the Hubble space telescope. Seen through the eyes of an active researcher, Galileo''s discoveries appear, not as historical facts, but as live components of a scientific effort that continues today. . . . A gripping story anyone can enjoy." -- Marianne Freiberger ― Plus Magazine

"An able scientist himself, Livio is well qualified to show how denial threatens intellectual freedom as well as health and survival.” -- Brian Morton ― Times Literary Supplement

“Livio illuminates the parallels between the deniers of Galileo''s scientific findings and those today who ignore the evidence of climate change. Intriguing and accessible, and packed with clever insights, Livio''s latest gives readers plenty of think about.” ― Publishers Weekly

"The most compelling reason to read this biography is the relevance of Galileo’s famous political and religious struggles to today’s problems. . . . In comparing the culture that condemned Galileo to our own, Livio writes that the mindset that leads to nonscientific decrees . . . also prevails in the United States to this day." -- Joseph Peschel ― America

“The latest from astrophysicist Livio features the author’s unique insights as well as his concern about the current fashion for giving ideology priority over truth. . . . The author truly excels in his explanations of Galileo’s findings as well as his descriptions of the culture of Renaissance Italy. . . . An expert life of a giant of science.” ― Kirkus Reviews

“Mario Livio’s Galileo is a beautifully written, enthralling, and insightful history of a courageous genius.  Today scientists and indeed all of us have a much less fraught, but otherwise not that dissimilar task to struggle with those who deny evolution, climate change, and free thought generally. A fascinating read.” -- John Allen Paulos, professor of mathematics, Temple University and the author of Innumeracy and A Numerate Life

" Mario Livio is ideally qualified to interpret Galileo''s ideas and philosophy. As a bonus, he offers parallels between 17th century interactions between science, religion and the public, and those we encounter today. This fascinating book deserves wide readership." -- Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal for the United Kingdom, and author of On the Future: Prospects for Humanity

"Livio argues that the distinction we make between the humanities and the sciences is false and damaging, and that Galileo illuminates a better balance between the two. A refreshing perspective on Galileo''s legacy." ― Booklist

"It is fashionable to invoke Galileo on both sides of any debate to claim the mantle of truth. In Galileo and the Science Deniers, Livio teaches us the method by which Galileo found the truth a process more powerful than rhetoric examination.   Today more than ever we need to understand what made Galileo synonymous with finding the truth." -- Adam Riess, Nobel Laureate in Physics

Galileo and the Science Deniers is a brilliant, highly readable account of Galileo’s life and accomplishments. The book is a joy to read and provides an accurate and vivid reconstruction of the immense intellectual contributions of Galileo. Livio thoroughly succeeds in illustrating the many facets of Galileo’s personality, and he offers wise and insightful reflections upon the necessity to overcome the division between the humanities and the sciences.” -- Michele Camerota, Galileo scholar, and author of Galileo Galilei e la cultura scientifica nell’età della Controriforma

“This is an insightful, riveting and deeply researched biography of Galileo Galilei that reveals not just his complex character but also how he was truly intellectually radical and well ahead of his time.” -- Priya Natarajan, Professor, Departments of Astronomy & Physics, Yale University and author of Mapping The Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos

“To better understand the perilous threat of science denialism today, Mario Livio looks back at the scientist who faced the greatest denial of them all: that the Earth revolves around the Sun.  By offering us an astrophysicist’s unique perspective on Galileo''s life and fate, this engaging work is a must read for anyone who values the contributions of science to society.” -- Marcia Bartusiak, author of The Day We Found the Universe and Dispatches from Planet 3

“Scientists have typically been fascinated and inspired by Galileo’s scientific achievements and by his struggle with the Catholic Church. In this book, astrophysicist Livio does an excellent job of conveying such fascination and inspiration in a manner that can be appreciated by scientists and nonscientists alike. An important lesson he emphasizes is Galileo’s bridging of the gap between the two cultures, namely the sciences and the humanities.”   -- Maurice A. Finocchiaro, author of On Trial for Reason: Science, Religion, and Culture in the Galileo Affair

About the Author

Mario Livio is an internationally known astrophysicist, a bestselling author, and a popular speaker who has appeared on  The Daily Show60 Minutes, and  NOVA. He is the author of the bestsellers The Golden Ratio, Brilliant Blunders, and Galileo. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: Rebel with a Cause

CHAPTER 1 Rebel with a Cause
At a breakfast that took place at the Medici Palace in Pisa, Italy, in December 1613, Galileo’s former student Benedetto Castelli was asked to explain the significance of Galileo’s discoveries with the telescope. During the discussion that ensued, the Grand Duchess Christina of Lorraine badgered Castelli about what she perceived as contradictions between certain biblical passages and the Copernican view of an Earth orbiting a stationary Sun. She cited in particular the description from the book of Joshua, in which, at Joshua’s request, the Lord commanded the Sun (and not the Earth) to stand still over the ancient Canaanite city of Gibeon and the Moon to stop in its course over the Aijalon Valley. Castelli described the entire affair in a letter he sent to Galileo on December 14, 1613, claiming that he played the theologian “with such assurance and dignity” that it would have done Galileo good to hear him. Overall, Castelli summarized, he “carried things off like a paladin.”

Galileo was apparently less convinced of his student’s success in elucidating the issue, since in a long letter to Castelli that he sent on December 21, he explained in detail his own views on the impropriety of using Scripture to dispute science: “I believe that the authority of Holy Writ had only the aim of persuading men of those articles and propositions which, being necessary for our salvation and overriding all human reason, could not be made credible by any other science,” he wrote. In a style characterizing much of his writing, he was quick to add sarcastically that he did not think “that the same God who has given us our senses, reason, and intelligence wished us to abandon their use.” Simply put, Galileo argued that when an apparent conflict arises between Scripture and what experience and demonstration establish about nature, Scripture has to be reinterpreted in an alternative way. “Especially,” he noted, “in matters of which only a minimal part, and in partial conclusion, is to be read in Scripture, for such is astronomy, of which there is [in the Bible] so small a part that not even the planets are named.”

While the argument itself was not entirely new—theologian Saint Augustine had written already in the fifth century that the sacred writers did not intend to teach science, “since such knowledge was of no use to salvation”—Galileo’s bold statements were about to put him on a collision course with the Catholic Church. The Letter to Benedetto Castelli marked only the beginning of the risky road that would eventually lead to Galileo being pronounced “vehemently suspected of heresy” on June 22, 1633. Overall, if we examine the record of Galileo’s life in terms of his personal contentment, it traces something like an inverted-U shape, with a pronounced peak somewhere shortly after his numerous astronomical discoveries, followed by a fairly steep fall. Ironically, the parabolic paths of projectiles, which Galileo was the first to determine, form a similar curve.

As history would have it, Galileo’s tragic end only helped to transform him into one of those larger-than-life heroes of our intellectual history. There aren’t many scientists, after all, about whose lives and achievements entire plays (such as Bertolt Brecht’s unforgettable Life of Galileo, first performed in 1943), and scores of poems have been written, or an opera has been composed. Suffice it also to note that a Google search on “Galileo Galilei” produced no fewer than 36 million results, again demonstrating an impact that many of today’s academics would love to have.

Albert Einstein once wrote about Galileo that “he is the father of modern physics—indeed, of modern science altogether.” He was echoing here philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, who also called Galileo “the greatest of the founders of modern science.” Einstein added that Galileo’s “discovery and use of scientific reasoning” was “one of the most important achievements in the history of human thought.” These two thinkers were not in the habit of offering profuse praise, but there was a solid base for these accolades. Through his pioneering, stubborn insistence that the book of nature was “written in the language of mathematics,” and his successful fusion of experimentation, idealization, and quantification, Galileo literally reshaped natural history. He transformed it from being a mere collection of vague, verbal, nebulous accounts embellished by metaphors, to a magnificent opus encompassing (when the contemporary knowledge allowed it) rigorous mathematical theories. Within those theories, observations, experiments, and reasoning became the only acceptable methods for discovering facts about the world and for investigating new connections in nature. As Max Born, winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics, once put it: “The scientific attitude and methods of experimental and theoretical research have been the same through the centuries since Galileo and will remain so.”

His scientific prowess notwithstanding, we should not get the impression that Galileo was the easiest or kindest person, or, for that matter, even that he was an idealistic freethinker; an explorer who accidentally wandered into theological controversy. Whereas he could indeed be extremely empathic and supportive to members of his own family, he showed blistering intolerance and belligerence, wielding his sharp pen toward scientists who disagreed with him. A number of scholars labeled Galileo a zealot, although not always a zealot for the same cause. Some said it was for Copernicanism—the scheme in which the Earth and the other planets revolve around the Sun—others claimed he was a zealot for his own self-righteousness. Still others even believed he was fighting for the Catholic Church, anxious to stop it from making a mistake of historical proportions by condemning a scientific theory that he was convinced would be proven to represent a correct description of the cosmos. In defense of his zeal, though, one would probably expect nothing less from a man who set out not only to change a worldview that had existed for centuries but also to introduce entirely new approaches to what constitutes scientific knowledge.

Undoubtedly, Galileo owes much of his scholarly fame to his spectacular discoveries with the telescope and his extremely effective dissemination of his findings. Turning this new device to the heavens instead of watching sailing ships or his neighbors, he was able to show wonders such as: there are mountains on the surface of the Moon; Jupiter has four satellites orbiting it; Venus displays a series of changing phases like the Moon; and the Milky Way is composed of a vast number of stars. But even these proverbially out-of-this-world achievements are not sufficient to explain the enormous popularity that Galileo enjoys to this very day, and the fact that he, more than almost any other scientist (with the possible exceptions of Sir Isaac Newton and Einstein), has become the perennial symbol of scientific imagination and courage. In addition, the facts that Galileo was the first to firmly establish the laws of falling bodies and the founder of the crucial concept of dynamics in physics were clearly not enough to make him the hero of the scientific revolution. What at the end distinguished Galileo from most of his contemporaries was not so much what he believed in but rather why he believed it and how he reached that belief.

Galileo based his convictions on experimental evidence (sometimes real, sometimes in the form of “thought experiments”—thinking through the consequences of a hypothesis) and theoretical contemplation, and not on authority. He was prepared to recognize and internalize that what had been trusted for centuries might be wrong. He also had the foresight to assert forcefully that the road to scientific truth is paved with patient experimentation leading to mathematical laws that weave all the observed facts into one harmonious tapestry. As such, he can definitely be regarded as one of the inventors of what we call today the scientific method: a sequence of steps that ideally (although rarely in reality) needs to be taken for the development of a new theory, or for acquiring more advanced knowledge. The Scottish empiricist philosopher David Hume gave in 1759 this personal comparison between Galileo and another famous empiricist, English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon: “Bacon pointed out at a distance the road to true philosophy: Galileo both pointed it out to others, and made himself considerable advances in it. The Englishman was ignorant of geometry; the Florentine revived that science, excelled in it, and was the first to apply it, together with experiment, to natural philosophy.”

All of Galileo’s impressive insights could not have happened in a vacuum. One could perhaps even argue that the age shapes individuals more than individuals shape the age. Art historian Heinrich Wolfflin wrote once: “Even the most original talent cannot proceed beyond certain limits which are fixed for it by the date of its birth.” What, then, was the backdrop against which Galileo acted and produced his unique magic?

Galileo was born in 1564, only a few days before the death of the great artist Michelangelo (and also the same year that brought the world the playwright William Shakespeare). He died in 1642, almost one year before the birth of Newton. One doesn’t have to believe in the transmigration at death of the soul of one human into a new body—nobody should—to realize that the torch of culture, knowledge, and creativity is always passed from one generation to the next.

Galileo was, in many respects, an example of a product of the late Renaissance. In the words of Galileo scholar Giorgio de Santillana: “a classic type of humanist, trying to bring his culture to the awareness of the new scientific ideas.” Galileo’s last disciple and first biographer (or perhaps more of a hagiographer), Vincenzo Viviani, wrote about his master: “he praised the good things that had been written in philosophy and in geometry to elucidate and awaken the mind to their own order of thinking and maybe higher, but he said that the main entrance to the very rich treasure of material philosophy was observations and experiments, which through the senses as keys, could reach the most noble and inquisitive intellects.” Precisely the same sentiments had been expressed by the great polymath Leonardo da Vinci about a century earlier, when he defied those who had mocked him for not being “well read,” by exclaiming: “Those who study the ancients and not the works of Nature are stepsons and not sons of Nature, the mother of all good authors.” Viviani further tells us that the judgment Galileo passed on various works of art was highly valued by celebrated artists such as the painter and architect Lodovico Cigoli, who was Galileo’s personal friend and sometimes collaborator. Indeed, apparently in response to a request from Cigoli, Galileo wrote an essay in which he discussed the superiority of painting over sculpture. Even the famous Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi approached Galileo when she thought that the French noble Charles de Lorraine, 4th Duke of Guise, had not sufficiently appreciated one of her paintings. Moreover, in her painting Judith Slaying Holofernes, her depiction of blood squirting was in accordance with Galileo’s discovery of the parabolic trajectory of projectiles.

Viviani’s encomium doesn’t stop there. His plaudits just go on and on. In a style very reminiscent of that of the first art historian, Giorgio Vasari, in his biographies of the greatest painters, Viviani writes that Galileo was a superb lutenist whose playing “surpassed in beauty and grace even that of his father.” This particular praise appears to have been at least somewhat misplaced: while it is true that Galileo’s father, Vincenzo Galilei, was a composer, lutenist, and music theorist, and that Galileo himself played the lute quite well, it was Galileo’s younger brother Michelangelo who was a true lute virtuoso.

Finally, to top it all, Viviani relates that Galileo could recite at length by heart from the works of the famous Italian poets Dante Alighieri, Ludovico Ariosto, and Torquato Tasso. This was not exaggerated adulation. Galileo’s favorite poem truly was Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, a rich, chivalric fantasy, and he devoted a serious literary work to a comparison between Ariosto and Tasso, in which he extolled Ariosto while brutally criticizing Tasso. He once told his neighbor (and later biographer) Niccolò Gherardini that reading Tasso after Ariosto was like eating sour lemons after delicious melons. True to his Renaissance spirit, Galileo continued to be deeply interested in art and in contemporary poetry throughout his entire life, and his writings, even on scientific matters, both reflected and were informed by his literary erudition.

In addition to this splendid artistic and humanistic background, there were, of course, important scientific advances—a few genuinely revolutionary—that helped pave the way for the type of conceptual breakthroughs that Galileo was about to produce. The year 1543, in particular, witnessed the publication of not one but two books that were about to change humanity’s views on both the microcosm and the macrocosm. Nicolaus Copernicus published On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, which proposed to demote the Earth from its central position in the solar system, and the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius published On the Fabric of the Human Body, in which he presented a new understanding of human anatomy. Both books went against prevailing beliefs that had dominated thought since antiquity. Copernicus’s book inspired others, such as philosopher Giordano Bruno and later astronomers Johannes Kepler and indeed Galileo himself, to expand the Copernican heliocentric ideas even further. Similarly, by elbowing out ancient authorities such as the Greek physician Galen, Vesalius’s book incentivized William Harvey, the first anatomist to recognize the full circulation of blood in the human body, to advocate the primacy of visual evidence. Major advances happened in other branches of science as well. The English physicist William Gilbert published his influential book on the magnet in 1600, and the Swiss physician Paracelsus introduced in the sixteenth century a new perspective on diseases and toxicology.

All of these discoveries created a certain openness to science not seen in the earlier Dark Ages. Still, the intellectual outlook of even the most educated people at the end of the sixteenth century was predominantly medieval. This was about to change dramatically in the seventeenth century. There must have been additional factors, therefore, that were responsible for what we might call the “Galileo phenomenon.” Other things ought to have been radically revised to create the fertile ground that was eventually ready to receive Galileo and promote him to the status of protomartyr and an icon of scientific freedom.

An important new sociopsychological element in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries was the rise of individualism—the notion that a person can achieve self-fulfillment irrespective of social circumstances. This novel perspective manifested itself in areas ranging from the acquisition of knowledge to the accumulation of wealth, and from the determination of moral truths to the evaluation of entrepreneurial success. The individualist attitude was very different from the values inherited from the ancient Greek philosophy, in which people were considered primarily members of the larger community rather than individuals. Plato’s The Republic, for instance, aimed to define and help construct a superior society, not a better person.

During the Middle Ages, individualism was prevented from taking root by the actions of the Catholic Church, through the principle that truths and ethics were determined by religious councils composed of a collection of “wise men” rather than by the experiences, contemplations, or opinions of freethinkers. This type of dogmatic rigidity started to crack with the rise of the Protestant movements, which rebelled against the assertion that those councils were infallible. Ideas espoused by the ensuing Reformation war penetrated other areas of culture. The war was waged not only on the battlefield and with propaganda pamphlets, one-page broadsheets, and essays, but also with paintings by artists such as Lucas Cranach the Elder, that contrasted Protestant and Catholic Christianity. It was partly the diffusion of these individualist convictions into philosophy that enabled the Galileo phenomenon. The same ideas were later put squarely center stage by the French philosopher René Descartes, who argued that an individual’s thoughts are the best, if not the only, proof of existence. (“I think, therefore I am.”)

There was also a new technology—printing—that made possible both the individual’s access to knowledge and the standardization of information. The invention of movable type and the printing press in mid-fifteenth-century Europe had an immense impact. Literacy was suddenly not the preserve of a rich elite, and the dissemination of data and scholarship through printed books continuously increased the numbers of educated people. But that was not all. More people, from different walks of life, were now exposed to precisely the same books, leading to the establishment of a new information basis and a more democratic education. In the seventeenth century, students of botany, astronomy, anatomy, or even the Bible in, say, Rome could be using the same texts as their counterparts in Venice or Prague.

The resemblance of this proliferation of sources of information to the effects and ramifications of the internet, social media, and communication devices today immediately jumps to mind. As an early precursor to e-mail, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, printing also allowed individuals to transmit their ideas to the masses more rapidly and efficiently. When the German theologian Martin Luther campaigned for church reform, he was assisted greatly by the existence of printing. In particular, his translation of the Bible from Latin into German vernacular, to represent his ideal of a world in which ordinary people could consult the word of God for themselves, had a profound impact on both the modern German language and the Church in general. About two hundred thousand copies in hundreds of reprinted editions appeared before Luther’s death. Similarly, no scientist at the time had a greater talent than Galileo for communicating his discoveries to others. Convinced that his message was ushering in a new science, he saw his role as that of the great persuader, and printing books in Italian rather than in the traditional Latin (which benefited only a few learned individuals) proved to be a potent tool to this end.

Perhaps less obvious was the fact that printing also had an effect on mathematics. The ability to relatively easily reproduce diagrams, coupled with the printing of classical Greek manuscripts, renewed interest in Euclidean geometry, which Galileo was to make creative use of. Archimedes, the greatest mathematician of antiquity, would become his role model. Among many other achievements, Archimedes formulated the law of the lever and used it capably against the Romans in his legendary war machines. “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth!” he was reported to have exclaimed. Galileo was only too happy to demonstrate that most machines could, at their basic principles, be reduced to something resembling a lever. Eventually he also came to believe in the Copernican model, in which the Earth was moving even without human intervention.

More broadly, the recovery, fresh editing, and translation of texts from the classical past provided a basis for more skeptical, investigative, observational attitudes. The primacy of mathematics as key to both practical and theoretical advances was becoming apparent, and it burgeoned into Galileo’s guiding light. Mathematics proved essential in areas ranging from painting (where it was used for working out vanishing points and foreshortening in perspective) to business transactions (where mathematician Luca Pacioli introduced double-entry accounting in his influential book The Collected Knowledge of Arithmetic, Geometry, Proportion and Proportionality). The upsurge in the numerical thinking of the time was perhaps best illustrated by an amusing anecdote involving Lord Burghley (William Cecil), the chief advisor to Queen Elizabeth I of England. According to this story, in 1555 he took the surprising step of weighing himself, his wife, his son, and all his household servants, and listing all the results.

Finally, another factor that helped to enhance the reverberations of Galileo’s findings was the intense curiosity about newly discovered worlds brought about by the great explorers. Together with the geographical horizons, the span of knowledge also rolled wider starting with the last decade of the fifteenth century. Explorers such as Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and Vasco da Gama reached the Caribbean islands, landed in North America, and found the sea route to India, respectively, just between 1492 and 1498. Then, by the 1520s, humans had circled the globe. No wonder that when the nineteenth-century French historian Jules Michelet tried to summarize the thirst for new wisdom and humanism that characterized the Renaissance, he concluded that it encompassed “the discovery of the world and of man.”

A MAN OF HIS TIME AND BEFORE HIS TIME


Galileo’s journey as a scientist started in 1583, when he dropped out of medical school and began to study mathematics. By 1590, at the age of twenty-six he already had the audacity to criticize the teachings on motion of the great Greek philosopher Aristotle, according to which things moved because of a built-in impetus. About thirteen years later, following a series of ingenious experiments with inclined planes and pendulums, Galileo formulated the very first “laws of motion” concerning free fall, even though he would not publish those until 1638.

He presented his first breathtaking discoveries with the telescope in 1610, and five years later, in a famous Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, expressed his risky opinion that the biblical language had to be interpreted in light of what science reveals, and not the other way around.

In spite of his personal disagreements with some orthodox church dicta, as late as May 18, 1630, Galileo was still received in Rome as an honored guest by Pope Urban VIII, and he left the city under the impression that the Pope had approved the printing of his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems after only a few minor corrections and a change of title. Overestimating the strength of his friendship with the pontiff and underestimating the fragility of the delicate psychological and political position of the Pope in that turbulent post-Reformation era, Galileo continued to believe that reason would prevail. “Facts, which at first seem improbable, will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty,” he once wrote. Imprudently neglecting his own safety, he proceeded to get the book to print, and, after a rather convoluted series of events, the book finally went to press on February 21, 1632. Whereas in the preface to the book Galileo purported to discuss the Earth’s motion merely as a “mathematical caprice,” the text itself had a very different flavor. In fact, Galileo taunted and derided those who still refused to accept the Copernican view in which the Earth revolved around the Sun.

Einstein said about this book:

[It] is a mine of information for anyone interested in the cultural history of the Western world and its influence upon economic and political development. A man is here revealed who possesses the passionate will, the intelligence, and the courage to stand up as the representative of rational thinking against the host of those who, relying on the ignorance of the people and the indolence of teachers in priest’s and scholar’s garb, maintain and defend their positions of authority.

For Galileo, however, the publication of the Dialogo, as it is commonly referred to, marked the beginning of the end of his life, though not of his fame. He was tried by the inquisition in 1633, pronounced a suspected heretic, forced to recant his Copernican ideas, and eventually placed under house arrest. The Dialogo was put on the Vatican’s Index of Prohibited Books, where it remained until 1835.

In 1634 Galileo suffered another devastating blow with the death of his beloved daughter Sister Maria Celeste. He still managed to write one more book, Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Concerning Two New Sciences (commonly known as Discorsi), which was smuggled out of Italy to Holland and published there in Leiden. The book summarized much of his life’s work, from his early days in Pisa, some fifty years earlier. Although his own travel was forbidden, Galileo was allowed to have occasional visitors. One of his callers during that late period of his life was the young John Milton, of Paradise Lost fame.

Galileo died in 1642 at his villa in Arcetri, near Florence, after having been blind and bedridden for a while. But as we shall clearly see in this book, his science and the tale of Galileo and his times resonate strongly today. There is a striking similarity between some of the religious, social, economic, and cultural problems that a person in the seventeenth century had to struggle with, and those we encounter in the twenty-first century. Indeed, whose story is better to tell than that of Galileo if we are to shine light on current concerns such as the continuing debate about the proper realms of science and religion, the support for the teaching of creationist ideas, and the uninformed attacks on intellectualism and expertise? The blatant dismissal in some circles of the research on climate change, the mocking attitude directed at the funding of basic research, and the elimination of budgets for the arts and public radio in the United States are only a few of the manifestations of such assaults.

There are additional reasons why Galileo and his seventeenth-century world are extremely relevant for us and our cultural needs. An important one is the apparent schism between the sciences and the humanities first identified and exposed in a 1959 talk (and later a book) by British physical chemist and novelist C. P. Snow, with his coinage of the term “the Two Cultures.” Snow presented his concern with great clarity: “A good many times, I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists.” At the same time, Snow pointed out, had he asked those very same erudite essayists to define mass or acceleration—to him, the scientific equivalent of “Can you read?”—for nine in ten of the highly educated, he might as well have been speaking a foreign language. On the whole, Snow noted that during the 1930s and onward, literary scholars started referring to themselves as “the intellectuals,” thereby excluding scientists from this coterie. Some of those intellectuals even resented the penetration of scientific methods into areas not traditionally associated with the exact sciences, such as sociology, linguistics, and the arts. While surely not as extreme, their stance was not entirely dissimilar from the indignation expressed by church officials who reacted against what they regarded as Galileo’s unwelcome intrusion into theology.

A few scholars argue that the problem of the two cultures is less acute today than it was when Snow gave his lecture. Others, however, claim that a proper dialogue between the two cultures is still mostly absent. Historian of science David Wootton, for example, feels that the problem has even deepened. In his book The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution, Wootton writes: “History of science, far from serving as a bridge between the arts and sciences, nowadays offers the scientists a picture of themselves that most of them cannot recognize.”

In 1991 author and literary agent John Brockman introduced the concept of a “third culture,” in online conversation and later in a book with that title. According to Brockman, the third culture “consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectuals in rendering visible the deeper meaning of our lives, redefining who and what we are.” As we shall see in this book, four hundred years ago, Galileo would have secured himself a place of honor in the third culture.

The border between art and science was largely blurred during the Renaissance, with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Piero della Francesca, Albrecht Dürer, and Filippo Brunelleschi having been involved in serious scientific research or in mathematics. Consequently, Galileo himself embodied an integration of the humanities and the sciences that can serve as a model to be examined, even if not easily emulated today. Consider, for instance, that at age twenty-four, he presented two lectures on the topic of “On the Shape, Location, and Size of Dante’s Inferno,” or the fact that even Galileo’s science involved, to a great extent, the visual arts. For example, in his book The Sidereal Messenger ( Sidereus Nuncius), a booklet of sixty pages that was rushed to print in 1610, he tells his scientific story of the Moon through a series of wonderful wash drawings, probably relying on the lessons in art he had received from the painter Cigoli at the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno (Academy of the Arts of Drawing) in Florence.

Perhaps most important, Galileo was the pioneer and star of advancing the new art of experimental science. He realized that he could test or suggest theories by artificially manipulating various terrestrial phenomena. He was also the first scientist whose vision and scientific outlook incorporated both methods and results that were applicable to all branches of science.

Galileo made numerous discoveries, but, in four areas, he literally revolutionized the field: astronomy and astrophysics; the laws of motion and mechanics; the astonishing relationship between mathematics and physical reality (dubbed in 1960 by physicist Eugene Wigner “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics”); and experimental science. Largely through his unparalleled intuition and partly through his training in chiaroscuro—the art of representing three dimensions in two through a clever use of light and shadows—he was able to transform what would have otherwise been simple visual experiences into intellectual conclusions about the heavens.

Following Galileo’s numerous observations and the confirmation of his findings by other astronomers, no one could cogently argue anymore that what one saw through the telescope must have been an optical illusion and not a faithful reproduction of reality. The only defense remaining to those obstinately refusing to accept the conclusions implied by the accumulating weight of empirical facts and scientific reasoning was to reject the interpretation of the results almost solely on the basis of religious or political ideology. If such a reaction sounds disturbingly similar to the present-day denial by some people of the reality of climate change, or of the theory of evolution by means of natural selection, it’s because it is!

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
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me
1.0 out of 5 stars
The more history you know, the more painful the read. I classify it as pseudohistory.
Reviewed in the United States on June 12, 2020
This book repeats a lot of the rubbish written about Galileo. The lies have simply been passed through generations of English readers. Meanwhile, another story entirely has been archived in the original documents, all in Latin. The histories written in other European... See more
This book repeats a lot of the rubbish written about Galileo. The lies have simply been passed through generations of English readers. Meanwhile, another story entirely has been archived in the original documents, all in Latin. The histories written in other European countries have a far different tale.

Mr. Livio does Galileo dishonor by attempting to contort a 17th century theological trial performed in a hugely different society to support his 21st century politics. It was painful to read through all of the distortions in his book, although I agree 100% with Livio''s ideas about current-day science and politics. Livio''s ideas about present-day politics are solid enough to stand on their own. They need no help from pseudohistory. It is a pity that he feels the need to savage history to make his points. In his defense, though, Livio built on a lot of falsehoods in the English language that began in the 17th century. Protestant British authors all-too-gleefully distorted Galileo''s trial while ignoring the censuring of Protestant scientists espousing heliocentrism. In the 19th century secularists invented more fables to demonstrate the Catholic Church was anti-science. In the 20th century we had all kinds of re-inventions of the history to promote all kinds of political agendas. These falsehoods were quoted down through generations and distorted more by each re-telling. Reference an earlier historian, but whatever you do, don''t pursue truth too diligently and do the hard work of digging into the original documents and understanding them in the original context, culture, and language.

It is only in the last few decades that real historians took another look at the Latin transcripts of Galileo''s trial and found something totally different from what the 17th century English wrote. Livio adds to the fake history by equating 21st-century Trumpism and climate deniers to a 17th century that looked at very different issues in very different ways. Please, Mr. Livio, don''t try to out-distort the Discovery-owned channels. No one else can compete with them in the fine art of throwing corrupted "facts" against the wall to see if they will stick. Selling pseudohistory makes big bucks these days. Ask Dan Brown.

There is no connection between a 17th century canonical trial based upon theological grounds and modern climate deniers. IMO, falsehood after distortion after mistake fill these pages. No, Galileo''s judges did not forbid him to pursue science. They censured his theology and his use of scriptures to prove his scientific ideas. No, Galileo was not some sort of a Deist or Theist. He was a devout Catholic, who originally wished to become a monk and later became a third-order (something like a lay monk). He took the tonsure in 1632. New translations of the judgment and proceedings demonstrate that there was not one instance of anyone suggesting that he halt or slow his scientific work. The court sentenced him to house arrest, which turned out to be more like town arrest, and blocked commercial publication of future books, but the judges prescribed nothing to stop his research. The judgment only considered theology, not science. No, the Copernican model that the earth rotates around the sun was not an idea foreign to the Church. The idea came from ancient Greece but in later times was largely developed by the Catholic Church. (Copernicus was a Polish Catholic cleric, and he created his theory and published his book with the approval of Pope Paul III.) No, the Catholic Church did not take until 1992 to admit their mistakes with Galileo. The Dominicans apologized in 1825.

The Copernican model was proved in long stages over centuries and widely accepted by the mid-18th century, but was not definitively proved beyond all doubt until 1834, when better instruments finally allowed repeatable star parallax measurements within allowable statistical error. The Church changed along with the science during that time. A huge failure of the book is that the author misses the full impact of personalities and how that is at the center of the story. Galileo utterly humiliated the Pope, Urban VIII, his former close friend. Urban gave his blessing to the creation of the book, but asked Galileo to include some of his ideas on the geocentric model. Galileo (in the sensitive time of the Counter Reformation) complied and patterned a dull and ignorant character (think: non-orange dotard) after him. Galileo called his Pope avatar, Simplicitus ... and Europe''s Protestants went wild. Urban must have been one to not let go of a grudge. He outlived Galileo and found new ways to revenge himself even unto and past Galileo''s death. He blocked Galileo from being buried in his chosen church location.

I mention three facts to show how vacuous and unsound the fundamental premise of the book is at the most basic levels. First is that Protestants were the primary foes of the Copernican model, not Catholics. Protestant Tubingen censured Kepler a decade before Galileo''s trial for heliocentrism. Luther wrote extensively and derisively condemning heliocentrism because the Bible contains several verses that assume a geocentric earth. Contrast that with what the ranking cleric involved in Galileo''s trial, Cardinal Bellarmine, said, "If you can prove your proposition, I will change my theology." The second is that some Catholics were using the heliocentric model long before Galileo''s trial, inventing it in its modern form. Under Pope Gregory XIII, Jesuit scholars created the more accurate Gregorian calendar that we use today, using the heliocentric model in their calculations. This was in 1582, more than a full generation before the trial of Galileo. (Protestant countries, locked into their theological objections to the geocentric model, took up to two centuries to adopt the calendar.) The third is that the concept of "science vs. religion" did not exist for Galileo or his Inquisitors. It did not become widespread until 200-250 years after Galileo, the times of Champollian to Thomas Huxley. Scientists previous to that time, such as Galileo, Newton, Descartes, Mendel, and Pasteur, saw no divergence between "natural philosophy" and their religion. They believed that science can elucidate how God works.

Instead of reading this book, spend your time with real historians. Read those who use primary sources and stay in the mainstream of research and thought. Mr. Livio, I agree with your defense of science and climate-change theories, but please do not massacre history to suit your own needs and ends. The History, Discovery, and Science Channels were there first and no one can beat them on pseudohistory (or pseudoscience).
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A riverting biography with lessons for today
Reviewed in the United States on May 5, 2020
This is a real page turner. A deeply researched biography, which is at the same time an important lesson for science denial today. Livio succeeds in conveying the significance of Galileo''s fight for intellectual freedom, through powerful storytelling and thoughtful... See more
This is a real page turner. A deeply researched biography, which is at the same time an important lesson for science denial today. Livio succeeds in conveying the significance of Galileo''s fight for intellectual freedom, through powerful storytelling and thoughtful analysis. While the parallels with the current, rampant science denial are mentioned only briefly, the connections are strikingly clear and alarming.
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Stephen Lepp
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Another wonderful book from Mario Livio
Reviewed in the United States on June 13, 2020
Mario Livio has a talent for finding interesting stories to tell in his science writing and this book is another timely story to tell. Galileo made such a huge contribution to science while living in a time where many of the powerful denied science. Here he navigates us... See more
Mario Livio has a talent for finding interesting stories to tell in his science writing and this book is another timely story to tell. Galileo made such a huge contribution to science while living in a time where many of the powerful denied science. Here he navigates us through Galileo''s life and science, while at the same time drawing connections to our current climate of science denial. The details of the trial and subsequent house arrest are interesting and show a particularly shameful abuse of power. I also found interesting that Galileo himself was a bridge between what Snow would call the Two Cultures. I would say that Mario Livio does this in his books as well often bridging the science and the arts.
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Richard Millard
2.0 out of 5 stars
Interesting, but Very Biased
Reviewed in the United States on May 5, 2020
Interesting book, but the perspective is very skewed by contemporary politics. The truth is, that Galileo was himself a “science denier.” He rejected the “settled science” and the “99 percent consensus” of his age, dared to think for himself, and followed the... See more
Interesting book, but the perspective is very skewed by contemporary politics.

The truth is, that Galileo was himself a “science denier.” He rejected the “settled science” and the “99 percent consensus” of his age, dared to think for himself, and followed the evidence wherever it led him, even if it led him in directions that the establishment of his time condemned.

Galileo’s life and career stand for the propositions that truth is not established by “consensus,” that we should always be open to questioning our assumptions, and that robust debate and a willingness to consider alternative approaches are really the only way to move science forward.

Unfortunately, our author seems to draw the opposite conclusions.
40 people found this helpful
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Peter Zemelka
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Modern Interpretations of Galileo''s contributions is still Compelling Science with Religion
Reviewed in the United States on August 2, 2020
I am a graduate of Bellarmine College (University), Louisville. Cardinale Robert Bellarmine, of 15th-16th century namesake --is patron saint of this institution which was founded and is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Louisville. The Archbishop remains Chancellor. In the... See more
I am a graduate of Bellarmine College (University), Louisville. Cardinale Robert Bellarmine, of 15th-16th century namesake --is patron saint of this institution which was founded and is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Louisville. The Archbishop remains Chancellor. In the most recent history of Bellarmine, Louisville, entitled IN VERITATIS AMORE, the university''s historian, Rev. Clyde Crews writes about Galileo as one of many 15-16th century controversies for Cardinal Bellarmine. Yet, it was/is disappointing that the Archdiocese of Louisville is not yet acknowledging the modern commentary about Galileo, for example from Pope John Paul-II-that Galileo should never have been condemned. In Florida, at the Space Center, Galileo name continues to be immortalized in the Space program by SPACEX and NASA and more.....Mario Livio''s interpretations of Galileo is must reading...
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The Professor
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Does a good job on Galileo, but not so much on the rest of the book
Reviewed in the United States on January 6, 2021
This book does a good job of concerning the Galileo event, but a poor job of covering so-called science deniers. I don’t mean to excoriate him, but I have read several books by the author and this is the worst. He repeats the canard that people reject evolution because they... See more
This book does a good job of concerning the Galileo event, but a poor job of covering so-called science deniers. I don’t mean to excoriate him, but I have read several books by the author and this is the worst. He repeats the canard that people reject evolution because they believe in Genesis. Some do for that reason, but some scientists have real concerns about Darwinism based on science, and many of their concerns are not related to their religion. An entire book, on Amazon, titled Science is the Doorway to the Creator: Nobel Laureates and Other Eminent Scientists Who Reject Orthodox Darwinism shows some of the leading scientists who are in this group. It was embarrassing to read “One cannot emphasize enough the fact that there isn’t even the slightest scientific doubt” about the truth of evolution, by which I assume he means, as the title of one biology book, From Molecules to Man. p. 223. Gallup consistently found 40 percent of Americans hold to creationism. Fossil proof of evolution he gave was Tiktaalik and Eohippus! As an astrophysicists Dr. Livio can be forgiven, but he needs to read the literature both for and against Tiktaalik. Lots of it is out there, some devastating to the orthodox view.
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Hande Z
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
And still it moves
Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2021
Mario Livio reminds us that one of the major goals of physics today is to formulate a theory that would unify all the fundamental forces of nature – gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear reactions. He tells us that it was Galileo ‘who took the first,... See more
Mario Livio reminds us that one of the major goals of physics today is to formulate a theory that would unify all the fundamental forces of nature – gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear reactions. He tells us that it was Galileo ‘who took the first, insightful step toward such a unification’.

This is not just another biography, but an illuminating one that explains how and why Galileo found himself before the Inquisition. It was not so much his defence of the Copernican view that the earth revolves around the sun, contrary to the ancient but mistaken view of Aristotle, but the fact that his explanation trespassed into the realm of the Church.

Only the Church has the right to interpret what the Bible says. The passages in Joshua 10 and Psalm 19 in which it was stated that the sun stood still, are matters of theology, not science. Livio shows the insidious antagonism the clerics have against Galileo and how they manoeuvre him, ultimately, to face the Inquisition.

This is an outstanding biography because Livio, himself an astrophysicist, could not help but explain the science to us, but how clearly and vividly he does so. It is what presents the context of Galileo’s achievements. The collateral story of Galileo’s eventual humiliation in Rome is told by Livio in arresting fashion. We see how a brilliant but naïve scientist got trapped by his scriptural enemies who rejects Galileo’s theories even though he explains with clarity how the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic world system has been dismantled by the Copernican one.

From what we see even today, in 2021, science still has its deniers. They will not read this book. But anyone who has an open mind will surely find light, if not through Galileo’s arguments, then certainly through his life; one dedicated to the cause of science. The words ‘Science Deniers’ in Livio’s book are significant today because this biography shows how the Catholic Church denied not only the discoveries of Copernicus, but also of Galileo’s, in favour of the unscientific, unproven, theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy – the obstinate denial that the sun moves from east to west and that the earth stood still. The contradiction by Galileo caused him to be subjected to the humiliation of the Inquisition and ultimate house imprisonment and the banning of his book, the Dialogo. It was the Church that insisted that science was wrong. It was only in 1992 that Galileo was exonerated. And even then, rather than accepting that the Bible is wrong and science is right, the Church created a moat around itself; a bubble in which scientific truth belongs to science and ‘truth of faith’ belongs to religion.
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ThreeScorePlus
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Galileo''s story bears retelling
Reviewed in the United States on March 23, 2021
Galileo''s story holds lessons for every age in that it is a story of scientific discovery, human resistance to change and one man''s stubborn courage and persistence. This telling is a good one that focuses on the political intrigue in the Catholic Church that drove the... See more
Galileo''s story holds lessons for every age in that it is a story of scientific discovery, human resistance to change and one man''s stubborn courage and persistence. This telling is a good one that focuses on the political intrigue in the Catholic Church that drove the opposition to Galileo''s discoveries. The science and the politics are presented in a readable, entertaining and informative way.
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Top reviews from other countries

avidreader
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Easy to read, gripping story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 23, 2020
I loved it. I was a bit disappointed with the discussion of today''s problems - I learned nothing, and it was too brief. But the stuff on Galileo was brilliant. Never enjoyed a bit of science history so much.
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Eliane Pompei
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
It lit up a little girls world
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 22, 2021
Already interested in the subject this book opened other possibilities regarding science
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George Poirier
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Galileo and the Catholic Church
Reviewed in Canada on July 30, 2020
This book mainly covers Galileo’s scientific work. But the principal focus is his conflict with the Catholic Church over his discoveries in astronomy – discoveries which were seen by the Catholic Church as being in conflict with Scripture. Otherwise, there is very little...See more
This book mainly covers Galileo’s scientific work. But the principal focus is his conflict with the Catholic Church over his discoveries in astronomy – discoveries which were seen by the Catholic Church as being in conflict with Scripture. Otherwise, there is very little here about other aspects of Galileo’s life. I found that the author did an excellent job in presenting both Galileo’s arguments as well as the Church’s. Although often quoting them from the original (but translated) texts, he immediately explains them in plain language to allow for a wider accessibility. Galileo’s resulting trial and its consequences are clearly described. But the author does not stop there. He also describes the aftermath and residuals of this conflict right up to modern times, highlighting the Church’s modern views on scientific research and discoveries on the one hand, and the Scriptures and their interpretation on the other. He also briefly discusses parallels between the Church’s attitude toward Galileo’s original discoveries to the viewpoints of modern day Creationists and climate change deniers. I believe that this book should be of particular interest to Galileo enthusiasts, as well as anyone interested in matters related to science and religion, particularly scientific discoveries in light of the Scriptures.
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arad hilel
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great book
Reviewed in Germany on August 3, 2020
a great book over a great charachter, I definitely recommended Mario''s book, it''s the second one I read and I love them
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Harshal
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Inspirational read
Reviewed in India on October 24, 2020
A great book. Inspirational.
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