Today is the 450th birthday of Galileo Galilei. The man known variously as the “father of modern observational astronomy,” the “father of modern physics,” and “the father of modern science” was born in 1564.
Because Americans are spending this weekend celebrating the father of their country, the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination has scheduled its celebration of Galileo for Friday, February 21.
Galileo and the Music of the Spheres at UCSD’s Atkinson Auditorium will have historical, astronomical and musical components.
Galileo in the Original: Dr. Jay Pasachoff of Williams College has been working with a rare-book librarian and a NASA visualization specialist to in an effort to duplicate Galileo’s 1609 discovery of mountains on the moon and identify the first lunar mountains he saw. Pasachoff will also have replica first editions of Galileo’s 1610 Sidereus Nuncius and his 1632 Dialogo.
Seeing the Universe through Galileo’s Lenses: Dr. Brian Keating of UCSD, noting that the refracting telescope, first used in astronomy by Galileo in 1609, continues to revolutionize our understanding of the universe, will describe the small group of refracting telescopes in continuous operation at the South Pole in Antarctica since 2005 that have helped astrophysicists glimpse the Big Bang from the bottom of the world.
Galileo in His Time: Dr. Renee Raphael of UC Irvine will relate what Galileo’s friends, students, and readers across Europe thought and wrote about him, his scientific discoveries, and his condemnation by the Catholic Church in the 17th century.
Music, Periodicity and Galileo’s Pendulum: Dr. Shlomo Dubnov of UCSD says Galileo as a young man discovered periodic motion by observing a pendulum and measuring it with his pulse. The mechanistic nature of the pendulum had inspired modern composers to create musical works that explore processes of repetitions. Dubnov promises, “In the talk I will describe some of these pieces and discuss aspects of rhythm perception and entrainment that are used for composing music with computers.”
These presentations will run from 2-4 p.m. A reception follows. The evening ends with a one-hour performance by The Musicians In Ordinary for the Lutes and Voices, performers of early solo song and vocal chamber music.