Tag Archives: Astronomy

Galileo

Did Galileo Really Say: “And Yet It Moves”?

According to available evidence, Galileo Galilei never said these notoriously famous words. They are not mentioned in judiciary files from the trial, neither in Galileo’s own letters and other writings.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d4/Justus_Sustermans_-_Portrait_of_Galileo_Galilei%2C_1636.jpg/472px-Justus_Sustermans_-_Portrait_of_Galileo_Galilei%2C_1636.jpg

Portrait of Galileo Galilei, 1636

First recorded mention of this famous quote being said by Galileo comes from more than 120 years later, from notoriously inaccurate work “The Italian Library”, written by Giuseppe Baretti. However, there is a very high probability that he either imagined this event himself, or took it from other dubious sources.

The moment Galileo was set free, he looked up to the sky and down to the ground, and, while stamping his foot, in a contemplative mood, he said, Eppur si muove, that is, and yet it moves, meaning the planet earth.“

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/Galileo_facing_the_Roman_Inquisition.jpg

Galileo Galilei facing the Roman Inquisition(Cristiano Banti, 1857)

If the Galileo really said these words, we can readily take for granted that it would ruin all his efforts to be proven innocent, and probably denounce him to life in prison. If he was sane, Galileo wouldn’t even consider uttering “And yet it moves” right in front of the inquisition.

We can probably attribute incredible popularity of the quote to widespread animosity against the Catholic Church, prevalent in 18.th century, bound with efforts to create martyr-like figures from the Church’s past adversaries and victims.

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Did People in Columbus’ Time Really Believe Earth Was Flat?

Columbus was never laughed at because he thought Earth was round. As Gerhard Prause points out in his book from year 1986, frequently repeated legend about Christopher Columbus being mocked by the dignitaries of the Royal Court of Castille is a widespread misconception, that originated in the first half of 20.th century.

Christopher Columbus, by Sebastiano del Piombio(1519)

The idea that educated people at the Columbus’s time believed in flat Earth, still remains one of the most prevalent errors in Western teaching. In reality, idea of spherical Earth was widespread since the third century B.C. Historian Jeffrey Burton Russell points out, that ”with only a few exceptions, no educated person in the Western history who ever lived after the Empedocles, believed in the flat Earth”.

However, even in late 19.th century, there were still people who believed in the flat shape of the Earth. This map was drawn in 1893 by Prof.Orlando Ferguson, in an attempt to disprove the “Globe Theory”

At the time of Christopher Columbus, shape of Earth was no longer discussed, however the exact size still remained a speculation. Columbus’s estimate of the Earth’s circumference was around 17,000 miles(28,000 kilometers), In contrast, figures estimated by the dignitaries of the Royal Court of Castille, based on the calculations of famous Florentian mathematician Paolo Toscanelli, were very close to actual earth’s circumference, that being 25,000 miles(40,000 kilometers).

And this, not the shape of the Earth, was the reason why Christopher Columbus was ridiculed.

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