Tuesday, August 25, 2009

365 Theme 92: Famous Authors

Galileo Galilei, one of humanity's most influential authors.

This past Sunday I visited the Franklin Institute to see the Galileo exhibit. Unfortunately photography was not allowed in the exhibit proper, so I was only able to take this image of the entrance poster (it is skewed to mitigate the glare from the lights).

The exhibit consisted of two parts, artifacts, books, and images from Florence in the time of the Medici, all of which were sealed away, and a more hands on section dealing with optics. This second section had telescopes of the design and quality of Galileo's.

Among the items on display was a copy of his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. The book which can be said to have begun the rise of western (now global) science and the eclipse of authority based teachings. Through his writings Galileo showed how the dogma of both the ancient Greeks and the church was wrong. And he backed these claims with experiments simple enough for anyone to reproduce. Galileo eschewed Latin and wrote in Italian, further showing his distain for authority of the ancients and supporting his view that anyone could discover how the world works.

The highlights of the exhibit for me were the original copies of the Dialogues and The Starry Messenger, in which he described his telescopic observations, and one of two remaining telescopes. And despite this scope being in a glass case I was able to get down on my knees and look through the scope. All I saw was a white circle of light. But I can say that Galileo and I have looked through the same scope. And I think that is just plain awesome.

1 comment:

Chesney said...

You go to some of the coolest places! I can see why you think it was awesome (I do too)!