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Error of a Genius? Galileo!

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Elimu (Education Forum)' started by MaxShimba, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. MaxShimba

    MaxShimba JF-Expert Member

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    Is that two moons around Saturn I see?

    Italian and British scientists want to exhume the body of 16th century astronomer Galileo for DNA tests to determine if his severe vision problems may have affected some of his findings.

    The scientists told Reuters on Thursday that DNA tests would help answer some unresolved questions about the health of the man known as the father of astronomy, whom the Vatican condemned for teaching that the earth revolves around the sun.

    "If we knew exactly what was wrong with his eyes we could use computer models to recreate what he saw in his telescope," said Paolo Galluzzi, director of the Museum of History and Science in Florence, the city where Galileo is buried.

    Galileo, who lived from 1564 to 1642, is known to have had intermittent eye problems for the second half of his life and was totally blind for his last two years.

    "There were periods when he saw very well and periods when he did not see very well," said Dr. Peter Watson, president of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis and consultant to Addenbrooke's University Hospital, Cambridge.

    Watson, who has studied Galileo's handwriting, letters and portraits of the astronomer, suspects he may have had unilateral myopia, uveitis -- an inflammation of the eye's middle layer -- or a condition called creeping angle closure glaucoma.

    Watson believes Galileo did not acquire his eye problems by looking at the sun but by systemic illnesses, including an attack when he was young that left him temporarily deaf and bloody discharges and arthritis so severe he was bedridden for weeks.

    He was under particular stress when he was tried for heresy by the Inquisition because the Copernican theory he supported conflicted with the Bible.

    ERROR OF A GENIUS?

    One of the "errors" that Galileo made, which Galluzzi suspects may have been attributed to his bad eyesight, is that he believed Saturn was not perfectly round but may have had an irregular, inflated side.

    With his 20-power telescope and with his eyes in bad shape he might have mistaken Saturn's gaseous ring to surmise that it was formed of one planet with two moons as satellites.

    "This was probably a combination of errors. He probably expected to find satellites and his eyesight may have contributed to some confusion," said Galluzzi.

    "A DNA test will allow us to determine to what measure the pathology of the eye may have 'tricked' him," he said.

    "If we discover the pathology he suffered, we can formulate a mathematical model that simulates the effects it would have had on what he saw and using the same type of telescope he used we can get closer to what he actually saw," Galluzzi said.

    "We only have sketches of what he saw. If we were able to see what he saw that would be extraordinary," he added.

    Galileo was buried in Florence's Santa Croce Basilica about 100 years after his death. Before, his remains were hidden in a bell tower room because the Church opposed a proper burial.

    His bones were stored together with those of one of his disciples, Vincenzo Viviani, and those of an anonymous woman.

    Galluzzi and others believe the bones belong to the most beloved of Galileo's three illegitimate children, Sister Maria Celeste, a nun who died when she was 33. She was the subject of the 1999 international bestseller "Galileo's Daughter," by Dava Sobel. DNA would determine if she is his daughter.

    Galluzzi said he was waiting for permission from the Church to exhume the body and then would form a committee of historians, scientists and doctors to oversee the project.

    (Editing by Katie Nguyen)
     
  2. MaxShimba

    MaxShimba JF-Expert Member

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    They don't believe that science can be blind. Was it an error of a genius?
     
  3. Opaque

    Opaque JF-Expert Member

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    I think kuna errors ambazo hao scientists wamegundua kuwa Galileo alizifanya, sasa wanataka kufanya uchunguzi wa DNA ya mtu wa karne ya 16 ili kujustify kwamba Galileo alifanya hizo errors due to his eye diseases, na lengo ni kusahihisha makosa ya genius Galileo bila ya "kumuumbua". Hata Newton pamoja na kuwa genius, kuna mambo mengine kama ya quantum mechanics, photons na idea of wave–particle duality, si yote aliyoyastate yanatumiwa kama msingi katika physics ya leo. Kuna kipindi waliwahi kuwa na conflict na genius mwingine Robert Hooke, kwa kuwa walitofautiana baadhi ya idea za kisayansi. Kwa hiyo kama jamaa wana lengo la kujustify errors za Galileo, basi ni project isiyo na maana. Ila kama wanafanya huku wakiwa hawana "conclusion vichwani mwao", basi ni jambo zuri, let them go on!
     
  4. MaxShimba

    MaxShimba JF-Expert Member

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    Asante Mkuu.

    Hawa jamaa watagunduaje kuwa errors zake zilikuwa ni kwasababu ya macho na sio labda ilikuwa ni kuelewa kwake kumekwenda kombo?

    Just curiosity
     
  5. MaxShimba

    MaxShimba JF-Expert Member

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    Scientists especially experimental scientist in their study of how things in nature work make every effort to avoid starting off their studies with incorrect premises. It is therefore surprising to find that lots all of the drawings of the lenses in Galileo's telescopes and the physical dimensions of the telescopes one finds in the literature are incorrect. The existing lenses attributed to Galileo are neither symmetrically curved nor plano-curved yet they continually seem to be drawn in this fashion. This biases our teaching and understanding of Galileo and his optics and in the analysis of the image quality even to the point of denigrating Galileo as a technologist and tainting the scientific and teaching communities reputations for accuracy. These factors can and do make a difference in image quality. Why then are they different in the literature than the originals is a study in itself on the reliability of reporting scientific work. The authors do not feel qualified to discuss this aspect of science and its impact on the public but concentrate on getting the correct data for building very precise museum grade copies.
     
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