Clarke Center To Celebrate Galileo’s Birthday

Galileo_facing_the_Roman_InquisitionToday 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.

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2 thoughts on “Clarke Center To Celebrate Galileo’s Birthday

  1. Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno told us about Galileo’s birthday at the beginning of a panel at Boskone this weekend, and I said, “But he still moves.”
    And then everyone in the room sang “Happy Birthday”.

  2. What is Galileo is doing tonight? My hope would be that the great man is resting in peace and that his head is not spinning in his grave. How, now, can Galileo possibly have peace? So few scientists speak out clearly and loudly regarding whatsoever they believe to be true about at least one root cause of the distinctly human-driven global predicament looming so ominously before humanity: human population dynamics/overpopulation of Earth. The human community could soon be confronted by multiple global ecological threats to future human wellbeing and environmental health that appear to result directly from the unbridled overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities of the human species now overspreading the Earth and threatening to ravage the planetary home we are blessed us to inhabit? Many too many leaders and a predominant coterie of the ‘brightest and best’ experts are choosing to remain silent rather than acknowledge science. Please consider how the elective mutism of so many of the most fortunate and knowledgeable elders among us could be contributing mightily to the ruination of Earth and its environs as a fit place for human habitation.

    Where are the intelligent leaders and established professionals with appropriate expertise who will stop colluding in silence, who are willing to examine and report on science that exists in the form of solid, uncontested research? Look at the dismaying disarray in which we find ourselves now and how far we have to travel in a short time to move the human family away from precipitating some unimaginable sort of global ecological wreckage. What would the world we inhabit look like if scientists like Galileo had chosen not to disclose science and instead adopt a code of silence? In such circumstances Galileo as well as scientists today would speak only about scientific evidence that the super-rich and most powerful people of the day believe to be politically convenient, religiously tolerable, economically expedient, socially correct and culturally prescribed. By so doing, Galileo and modern-day scientists would effectively breach their responsibilities to science and duties to humanity to tell the truth as they see it, as best they can report it.

    Heretofore hesitant and inert scientists are called upon now to follow the good example of Galileo. The politically correct silence of so many knowledgeable but apparently dumbstruck experts on one hand as well as the incessant mass media jabber of sycophants and other minions of wealthy power brokers on the other hand could be killing the world we inhabit as well as life as we know it. Most scientists have not actively engaged in inimical ‘sins of commission’, as have many too many deceitful, chattering experts; and yet too many scientists on our watch have chosen to maintain their silence by not speaking out ‘as if each one was a million voices’. It appears scientists have been and continue willfully to deny the best available scientific evidence that specifically relates to human population dynamics. Is their collusion to remain electively mute correctly described as a sin of omission or a lie of silence? If science does not overcome silence, then much of the world the human community believes we are preserving and protecting will be irreversibly degraded and relentlessly dissipated, if not destroyed outright. Surely, truthful empirical reports from intellectually honest and moral courageous scientists regarding the population dynamics of the human species and the human overpopulation of Earth will give Galileo Galilei peace.

    Steven Earl Salmony

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