Saturday, 31 January 2009

Requiescat in Pace

Scientists are planning to exhume the 367 year old remains of Galileo Galilei because they think he may have had a few problems with his eyes. And that may mean his early observations of the planets and moon were a little inaccurate. And the shadows, contours, moutains and craters he sketched may have just been the fuzzy stuff he was seeing as his eyeballs lost pressure.

They want to extract DNA samples from whatever is left of the great man in his grave in Florence. Of course this has little bearing on astronomy as we now have a far more detailed idea of the solar system. And we know Galileo - with or without perfect sight - got it right in his support of Copernicus and the heliocentric theory of the universe: the sun, rather than Earth, being central.

We know that Galileo was blind for the last two years of his life. We know he made some of the earliest sketches of the moon through its phases as he saw it using his telescope. We know the man was a genius. And I guess science is all about advancement, discovery and doing things a lot of people disagree with. But I still feel the bones of this 16th century pioneer should remain in the 16th century. After all, surely Galileo Galilei's greatest discoveries were made with his mind and through his actions - not just through his slightly dodgy eyes.

And it appears I'm not the only one to think this.

Like my man Bjarne says:
"*Sighs* Yet 'another' piece of idiocy from the 'Let's Do Something Really Dumb Department'! So the guy *may* have had bad eyes! I do and so do a LOT of people! Yet they contribute to all sorts of Scientific endeavors. But then, maybe they should start doing the same thing to others to determine what was 'wrong' with them. Sheesh!"
And as Pam adds:
"Waste of time and money exhuming Galileo's body…..Let Galileo rest in peace."
And Shaww wittily adds:
"Oh bullsh*t…stop wasting our time and get on with what is important."
Galileo must be turning in his grave, or loving every minute of the continued controversy he's causing in death. What sprang to my mind when I saw this story was lucky the Apollo 11 team didn't use one of the Father of Modern Astronomy's sketches to find a nice place to land on the lunar surface, or they may have headed straight into a hole that GG didn't spot.

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