EXHIBITS: Trial of the (17th) Century

Science  24 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5730, pp. 1847
DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5730.1847c

On 22 June 1633, an elderly and frail Galileo Galilei appeared before a tribunal of the Roman Inquisition, clad in a white shirt signifying contrition. Arraigned for advocating the heresy that Earth wasn't the center of the universe, Galileo took a plea bargain and vowed to “abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies, and generally every other error and sect whatsoever contrary to the said Holy Church.” Read more about the famous clash between religion and science at this site from law professor Douglas Linder of the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Along with an account of the trial and its background, Linder marshals a wealth of documents from the case. You can study Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems—the work that prompted the Church to take action against him—the papal condemnation, and part of his recantation. The Galileo pages are part of Linder's site summarizing famous trials, including two others with a scientific angle: the 1925 Scopes trial and the 1951 nuclear espionage case against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.


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