Galileo in Popular Culture

23 March 2007 at 9:04 am 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

Brief follow-up to our earlier post on the Galileo Legend. Happened to catch on the radio today “Galileo” by the Indigo Girls, from their 1992 album Rites of Passage. The song opens thusly:

Galileo’s head was on the block
the crime was looking up for truth
and as the bombshells of my daily fears explode
I try to trace them to my youth

The chorus, a fortiori, makes Galileo into a sort of secular saint:

How long till my soul gets it right
can any human being ever reach that kind of light
I call on the resting soul of Galileo
king of night vision, king of insight

I’ll buy the “king of night vision” part — Galileo’s greatest achievement, after all, was his improvements to the telescope — but “king of insight” seems a little extreme. (It’s a catchy tune, however.)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Cultural Conservatism, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Paolo MARITI  |  24 March 2007 at 5:53 am

    Galileo was no doubt a genious. He wrote that science and faith must not be mixed up since they are independent. And that was judged as a deadly sin by the curch at his time.
    Being a genious does not mean to be a silly guy under other respects. When he realized (1633) that he could be condemned to life imprisonment, he did soft-pedalled his ideas. He was nonenthelss isolated, could not teach at the university (Pisa), could not be helped by young scholars but for a small number of them (later to become outstanding scientists themselves: Viviani, Torricelli….)
    But he never stopped to carve his masterful insights into extremely bold pieces of science ( astronomy, atomic theory, classical relativity, gravity law, dynamics, inertia principle,……).
    He transformed insights into science by devising the socalled experimental method, since then used to validate or disprove scientific theories. Via MENTAL EXPERIMENTS, real observations are coupled with direct experiments and rigourous mathematics. Such method is at the basis of modern science (even physics). As economist perhaps we could still learn much from it ( Reference to R.Coase- B.Klein debate and most econometrics is accidental).
    all the best,

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