History for the Rest of Us

Galileo Forced to Recant Heliocentrism

Galileo Forced to Recant Heliocentrism

Jun 23, 2012

On June 22, 1633, Galileo Galilei, at the age of seventy, was sentenced to imprisonment, ordered to read the seven penitential psalms once a week for the next three years, and forced to recant his view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe. Renouncement of 1615 Galileo had been renounced by the Holy Roman Church eighteen years earlier for: holding his heliocentric views to be true having disciples to whom he taught the same views being in correspondence with others about his views publishing letters with the views and attributing his own meaning to Holy Scripture As a favor, on February 25, 1616, Galileo was given a warning that unless he abandoned his ‘false opinion completely’ he would be imprisoned. He was given an injunction that he must ‘completely abandon the said false opinion, and that in the future…[he] could neither hold, nor defend, nor teach it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.’ Galileo promised to obey and was dismissed. In 1623, Pope Gregory XV died. Galileo traveled to Rome to congratulate the new Pope, Urban VIII which won him greater favor with the Church than he had previously held. Urban VIII had opposed the condemnation of Galileo in 1616. Galileo wiped the dust off his writing project on heliocentrism and at the request of the Pope, he gave arguments for and against heliocentrism in the writings. In 1632, Galileo’s book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic & Copernican, was printed in Florence. It gained great popularity. However, whether knowingly or unknowingly, Galileo had offended one of his greatest supporters, Pope Urban VIII, in the process. Galileo had expressed the views contrary to heliocentrism from the voice of a character in the book named ‘Simplicio’. The character was often caught in his own errors and came across as a fool in the book. The name also infers ‘simpleton’ in Italian. With his most powerful supporter now in the rear view mirror, Galileo was summoned to Rome to defend his writings. He eventually admitted that, contrary to his intention, readers of his book could have interpreted the writing as a defense of heliocentrism. The sentence...

Galileo Galilei’s Sentence 22 June 1633

Galileo Galilei’s Sentence 22 June 1633

Jun 23, 2012

We: [names of ten Cardinals] By the grace of God, Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and especially commissioned by the Holy Apostolic See as Inquisitors-General against heretical depravity in all of Christendom. Whereas you, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, were denounced to this Holy Office in 1615 for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the sun is the center of the world and motionless and the earth moves even with diurnal motion; for having disciples to whom you taught the same doctrine; for being in correspondence with some German mathematicians about it; for having published some letters entitled On Sunspots, in which you explained the same doctrine as true; for interpreting Holy Scripture according to your own meaning in response to objections based on Scripture which were sometimes made to you; and whereas later we received a copy of an essay in the form of a letter, which was said to have been written by you to a former disciple of yours and which in accordance with Copernicus’s position contains various propositions against the authority and true meaning of Holy Scripture; And whereas this Holy Tribunal wanted to remedy the disorder and the harm which derived from it and which was growing to the detriment of the Holy Faith, by order of His Holiness and the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord Cardinals of this Supreme and Universal Inquisition, the Assessor Theologians assessed the two propositions of the sun’s stability and the earth’s motions as follows: That the sun is the center of the world and motionless is a proposition which is philosophically absurd and false, and formally heretical, for being explicitly contrary to Holy Scripture; That the earth is neither the center of the world nor motionless but moves even with diurnal motion is philosophically equally absurd and false, and theologically at least erroneous in the Faith. Whereas however we wanted to treat you with benignity at that time, it was decided at the Holy Congregation held in the presence of His Holiness on 25 Feb 1616 that the Most Eminent Lord Cardinal Bellarmine would order you to abandon this false opinion...

Galileo Galilei’s Abjuration 22 June 1633

Galileo Galilei’s Abjuration 22 June 1633

Jun 23, 2012

I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei of Florence, seventy years of age, arraigned personally for judgment, kneeling before you Most Eminent and Most Reverend Cardinals Inquisitors-General against heretical depravity in all of Christendom, having before my eyes and touching with my hands the Holy Gospels, swear that I have always believed, I believe now, and with God’s help I will believe in the future all that the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church holds, preaches, and teaches. However, whereas, after having been judicially instructed with injunction by the Holy Office to abandon completely the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and does not move and the earth is not the center of the world and moves, and not to hold defend, or teach this false doctrine in any way whatever, orally or in writing; and after having been notified that this doctrine is contrary to Holy Scripture; I wrote and published a book in which I treat of this already condemned doctrine and adduce very effective reasons in its favor, without refuting them in any way; therefore, I have been judged vehemently suspected of heresy, namely of having held and believed that the sun is the center of the world and motionless and the earth is not the center and moves. Therefore, desiring to removed from the minds of Your Eminences and every faithful Christian this vehement suspicion, rightly conceived against me, with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the above-mentioned errors and heresies, and in general each and every other error, heresy, and sect contrary to the Holy Church; and I swear that in the future I will never again say or assert, orally or in writing, anything which might cause a similar suspicion about me; on the contrary, if I should come to know any heretic or anyone suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor or Ordinary of the place where I happen to be. Furthermore, I swear and promise to comply with and observe completely all the penances which have been or will be imposed upon me by this Holy Office; and...

Ben Franklin’s Kite

Ben Franklin’s Kite

Jun 15, 2012

Although the exact date isn’t known, it is traditionally held that on June 15, 1752 Ben Franklin successfully demonstrated that lightning is an electric phenomenon. Mr. Franklin described the legendary kite experiment in his own words in a letter to Peter Collinson written in October 1752: Ben Franklin’s letter describing the kite experiment:...