EXHIBITS: The Galileo Files

Science  26 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5701, pp. 1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5701.1449a

The Galileo Project from science historians at Rice University in Houston, Texas, lets you follow the life and work of Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), who made the telescope into a serious observing instrument and became a scientific martyr. From a brief biography, visitors can explore pages on Galileo's scientific accomplishments and inventions. For example, after boosting the magnifying power of existing telescopes, he discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter and observed the phases of Venus. But his work contradicted the Catholic Church's view that the solar system revolved around Earth. A chronology details Galileo's conflict with the Inquisition, which kept him under house arrest for the last decade of his life.

Adding context to these events are backgrounders on contemporaries, such as Johannes Kepler, who showed that the planets' orbits are elliptical, and the virtuoso Danish observer Tycho Brahe. Another site highlight is translations of 124 letters from Galileo's eldest daughter Maria Celeste, who became a nun.

galileo.rice.edu

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