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Space Science

Galileo: Right On the Solar System, Wrong On Ice 206

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-can't-be-right-all-the-time dept.
carmendrahl writes "Famed astronomer Galileo Galilei is best known for taking on the Catholic Church by championing the idea that the Earth moves around the sun. But he also engaged in a debate with a philosopher about why ice floats on water. While his primary arguments were correct, he went too far, belittling legitimate, contradictory evidence given by his opponent, Ludovico delle Colombe. Galileo's erroneous arguments during the water debate are a useful reminder that the path to scientific enlightenment is not often direct and that even our intellectual heroes can sometimes be wrong."
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Galileo: Right On the Solar System, Wrong On Ice

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @03:41PM (#44680073)

    I remember reading somewhere that another opponent, possibly the same in the blurb, had the same complaints about the heliocentric system. While he believed it to be true as well, he found Galileo's reasons as to why were erroneous, and fought over these 'wrong reasons'.

    • That "Other Opponent" happened to the the Pope.

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday August 26, 2013 @04:36PM (#44680589)

      Yeah, Galileo thought the Earth's motion around the sun caused the tides (not the Moon). That essentially the water was "sloshing" around the Earth as it rotated, and that proved the Earth was moving. Since this is, well, wrong, (basically everyone knew the tides were connected to the Moon, if not why) it's hardly surprising most of the scientists of the day disagreed with him. Well, that and he called his opponents simpletons. Name-calling doesn't tend to win friends and influence people.

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday August 26, 2013 @05:39PM (#44681145)

        Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. - Albert Einstein

        • by PortHaven (242123) on Monday August 26, 2013 @05:52PM (#44681247) Homepage

          Yes, but anyone who is making a mistake and insulting people over it = an ass.

          Galileo Galilei was an ASStronomer!!!

          • What's worse is arguably one person he called Mr. Stupid (aka Simplicio) was his college buddy that encouraged him to get published. You may know him as the Pope. (Yes, G man was actually buddies with the Pope.)
            • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday August 26, 2013 @08:05PM (#44681973)

              Galileo was friends with Urban the VIII, but it was Paul the V that the controversy began (Urban suceeded Paul). Actually, the controversy was not about the actual science but more politics. There were already theories of heliocentricity from both Copernicus and Kepler who preceded Galileo. The standard for science back then was based on an Aristotlian system. In proving his work, Galileo relied on Copernicus, and while heliocentricity was more or less accepted in the scientific community and many in the Catholic Church, there was much dispute about the great distances between starts that Copernicus theorized to deal with the abscense of parallax shifts. The problem for Copernicus was one of crude instruments, but because his theories were not universally accepted by the astronomical community of the time, Galileo, basing his proof on Copernicus failed the Aristotlian rigor needed to for proof.

              Galileo disagreed and took it to the Church assuming that since the Jesuits agreed with him, the Pope would, too. But the Pope sided with general astronomers of the day and said that he was free to teach his theory but it was not a proven fact. Luther basically said the same thing to Kepler 10 years earlier, but the Lutherans don't get in trouble for it.

              Even after Galileo was placed under house arrest for publishing his work as fact instead of theory (which is what the dispute was about), the Church provided housing for him, built him an observatory, fed him, provided servents for him, paid him to do research and a host of other things. It was probably the most comfortable house arrest in history.

              Anyway, there were large egos involved and Galileo refused to change his position and said that he was correct and the Church was wrong. While history has shown his theory to be correct, it is for the wrong reason. Copernicus was wrong on the parallax shifts and if they had better instrumentation he would have seen the shifts. So in a way both sides were correct at the time. The heliocentric model was correct, although that was never really disputed, but the Church was correct in that it failed the rigors of scientific proof.

              • It was probably the most comfortable house arrest in history.

                Yeah, after they very nearly burnt him to death, they generously agreed to keep him fed while locking him up for life. Bleeding hearts that they were.

                While history has shown his theory to be correct, it is for the wrong reason. Copernicus was wrong on the parallax shifts and if they had better instrumentation he would have seen the shifts. So in a way both sides were correct at the time. The heliocentric model was correct, although that was never really disputed, but the Church was correct in that it failed the rigors of scientific proof.

                BS, BS, and more BS.

                From the original Papal Condemnation of Galileo: [umkc.edu]

                "We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare that you, the said Galileo, by reason of the matters adduced in trial, and by you confessed as above, have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine—whic

                • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

                  Yes, the church condemned him, based on scripture, that's all the church, by its own rules could condemn somebody on. However, where do you find that he was going to be burned? Even in the English translation of the sentence, it talks about imprisonment for three years. Basing one's arguments solely on the the wording of the sentence is a bit like Galileo basing his proof on Copernicus' argument. You would think with the plethora of detailed documentation around Galileo and the Catholic Church one would no

        • I wouldn't take up sky-diving with that attitude.

          Sometimes you just got to things right the first time.

      • Just to expand on this Galileo's hypothesis basically gets every observable fact about tides wrong(besides the fact there are tides) which probably explains why people didn't believe him. (Lets see if I remember right if you apply it you'd figure there's 1 tide a day, it's at the same time every day, and it's the same height.)
    • by Antipater (2053064) on Monday August 26, 2013 @04:41PM (#44680651)

      Galileo's not the only Great Man of Science to gain his fame out of sheer assholery. Louis Pasteur, for example, "proved" the nonexistence of spontaneous generation by falsifying his notes and by forcing a prominent critic, Felix Pouchet, to withdraw from experimental competition by a combination of intimidation and biased "independent" panels. Later science proved that Pasteur had the right general idea, of course, but in his specific experiments facing off against Pouchet (the famous "swan-necked flasks") he was actually mistaken. Had Pasteur not been such an asshole, Pouchet would not have withdrawn from competition and would have won.

      It just goes to show that sociopaths running the world is not a new phenomenon.

    • by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Monday August 26, 2013 @05:44PM (#44681183)

      Galileo was NOT incorrect about why ice floats. He was incorrect about why a wafer of ebony floats while a ball of ebony does not. From TFA:

      Delle Colombe’s basic premise was that ice was the solid form of water, therefore it was more dense than water. He argued that buoyancy was “a matter of shape only,” Caruana explained. “It had nothing to do with density.”
      . . .
      And Galileo’s primary argument for floating ice was correctly based on Archimedes’ density theory, wherein an object in water experiences a buoyant force equal to the weight of water it displaces. Because ice is less dense than liquid water, it will always float on liquid water.
      . . .
      On the third day of the debate, delle Colombe stole the show with a crowd-pleasing experiment, Caruana said. Delle Colombe presented a sphere of ebony to the audience. The sphere was placed on the surface of the water, and it began to sink. Then delle Colombe took a thin wafer of ebony and placed it on the surface of the water, where it floated. Because the density of both the wafer and the sphere of ebony were the same, delle Colombe announced that density had nothing to do with buoyancy and that an object’s shape was all that mattered.
      . . .
      Galileo argued that the thin volume of air, above the wafer but below the surface of the water, had somehow united with the ebony wafer. Thus, the density of the hybrid ebony-and-air object was the average of the density of ebony and the density of air. This average density was less than the density of liquid water, thus the ebony wafer (plus air) could float on water.

      Thus, according to the article, Galileo was absolutely correct about why ice floats. He only gave an improper explanation of why his opponent's ebony show didn't disprove his explanation, and thus this article was a waste of time, and, honestly, I feel a bit misled. After actually reading TFA (which is rare for me, I will admit) I ended up more convinced that Galileo was a freaking smart dude, way ahead of his time, which was exactly the opposite of the purpose of the article. It seems like they would have been better off writing about Newton and his supposed quest for alchemy.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        He was also correct about heliocentricism but wrong as to why as he based a large portion on Copernicus' theory for the non observance of parallax shifts of starts which modern science has shown to be wrong (actually as soon as better equipment was available, Copernicus was shown to be wrong in this area). So what is it called when you get the right answer but for the wrong reasons?

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        Thank you. That was the only reply I needed to understand this article.

  • More false history (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @03:45PM (#44680115)

    Galileo Galilei was an asshole. That was the start of his problem. He partially recreated the work of Copernicus (who had no conflict with Catholicism while proving heliocentricity), but then stopped about 3/4 of the way and filled the rest with evidence-free assertions. He never did provide evidence for those assertions (which have since been found to be wrong), but he did write a 'dialogue' to defend his claims where he (accidentally?) used a nickname for the Pope of the time as the name of his ignorant questioner character.

    Once the Pope thought he was being directly insulted, things went downhill fast.

    Looks like the same pattern with this story about water, no surprise to anyone who actually knows a bit of history.

    • Why should the Pope being insulted have anything to do with whether the earth moves around the sun? Why are you making ad hominem attacks against Galileo, and throwing out your own "evidence-free" assertions that he made "evidence-free" assertions? What does someone thinking someone else is an asshole have anything to do with their actual science?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Em Adespoton (792954)

        Why are you making ad hominem attacks against Galileo, and throwing out your own "evidence-free" assertions that he made "evidence-free" assertions? What does someone thinking someone else is an asshole have anything to do with their actual science?

        To answer the first question: it's pretty solidly researched and can be backed up with manuscripts. If he was that bad when things were written down, he was unlikely to be much better in person (especially considering the written accounts about in-person meetings reflect the other manuscripts).

        To answer the second: Nothing -- but this "historical reflection" article doesn't have much to do with science; it's a "history" article, and as such, is open to ad hominem attacks.

        Now if the original submission had

      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        What does someone thinking someone else is an asshole have anything to do with their actual science?

        It can lead to confirmation bias -- looking only for evidence that proves the other guy wrong, instead of maintaining scientific integrity.

        In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should,

      • by will_die (586523)
        The Pope gave him a chance to prove his idea and he could not. It was when he would not stop saying that the main scientific thinking of the day, based on the works of Aristotle, were wrong that he got house arrest.
        Before you complain about that it is very much around today present the same amount of scientific research against a popular mainstream thinking and the scientist of today will call for you to be fired and blacklisted.
        • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:07AM (#44683213) Homepage Journal

          present the same amount of scientific research against a popular mainstream thinking and the scientist of today will call for you to be fired and blacklisted

          [sigh] I may regret asking this, but would you care to present any actual examples? Note: some guy screaming "help, I'm being oppressed!" doesn't count.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          I'm a scientist. I make a bit of a habit of going around telling people with mainstream ideas they're wrong. Nobody has called for me to be fired and blacklisted.

          Mods, parent isn't informative. It's repeating a tired old myth that's believed by people who don't have any idea how modern science works and for some reason would like very much to believe it's just like religion.

      • by Xtifr (1323)

        Why should the Pope being insulted have anything to do with whether the earth moves around the sun?

        Who said it did? OP certainly didn't. He merely asserted that Galileo was an asshole. Which I don't think is much of a stretch.

        The fact is that while Copernicus should be (and is) credited with the heliocentric model, he was careful to assert that it was purely a model that made calculations easier (none of the epicycle nonsense required). He never claimed it was a fact; he merely described it as a useful tool. But, if Galileo hadn't come along to turn the whole thing into a political issue, it's quite poss

      • by Endovior (2450520)

        Why should the Pope being insulted have anything to do with whether the earth moves around the sun? Why are you making ad hominem attacks against Galileo, and throwing out your own "evidence-free" assertions that he made "evidence-free" assertions? What does someone thinking someone else is an asshole have anything to do with their actual science?

        To provide an example of Galileo's "evidence-free assertions": in an earlier work of his [wikipedia.org], he asserted that comets were simply optical illusions, without much evidence to back up his claim, largely to score some points off a rival, and attempt to curry favor with the Pope (the same Pope which he later insulted, notably). His rival actually had a mathematical argument in favor of his position on comets, which (beyond the fact that the guy was, y'know, actually correct) did kind of mean he was doing better sc

      • The first rule of dealing with medieval absolute monarchs is... ...don't insult medieval absolute monarchs.

    • by pezpunk (205653)

      not sure how calling out the Pope makes him an asshole. More power to him.

      • by PortHaven (242123)

        Cause the Pope had been one of his biggest supporters and protectors. And Galileo had not been able to offer proof of his beliefs. Actually, more so that a number of his arguments in support were disproven (such as the tides sloshing about).

        So basically, the Pope said you can discuss, but not advocate for the heliocentric view as a fact. Instead, Galileo, published a book arguing for it, and using some of the Pope's statements by a character named Simpleton.

        This is like a venture capitalist saying "Please

      • not sure how calling out the Pope makes him an asshole. More power to him.

        Because the Pope had previously been friendly toward him and interested in his ideas, and actually asked him to write a book that explained his ideas vs. other systems in an impartial way. The pope further asked that his own questions on the topic be included. Galileo wrote a dialog which (probably unintentionally) came off as mocking the character promoting the geocentric view, who voiced the pope's arguments. So it looked like he was bashing the guy who asked him to explain his ideas.

        Once the pope was

    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday August 26, 2013 @04:28PM (#44680495)

      He partially recreated the work of Copernicus ... but then stopped about 3/4 of the way and filled the rest with evidence-free assertions

      The scientific method was in its infancy when Galileo did his research. The fact that he didn't uphold what we'd call an acceptable standard of scientific integrity does not detract from the importance of his methods. He helped get off the ground the idea that experiment, rather than preconceptions (what his contemporaries called "reason") is the way to establish scientific fact.

      And yes, from what I know of his life, he does seem like an asshole. So what? Lots of assholes have done good in the world.

      • Math is reason (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        preconceptions (what his contemporaries called "reason")

        What you readily dismiss as preconception was called reason by others because it is rationalism. A priori knowledge absent of empirical evidence. To dismiss it so easily is to ignore the entire works of mathematics. We all know that two of anything added to two of anything else is four. We do not need infinite evidence to prove it with reasonable (there is that root word again) certainty. Math is a noumenon manipulating process. There is no evidence that mathematical objects exist because they do not exist

        • A priori knowledge absent of empirical evidence.

          Absent empirical evidence, you have no a priori knowledge about a natural phenomenon. Once you've gathered some evidence, you may be able to show that a mathematical model of the phenomenon is reasonable, and make inferences on that basis--but you must have the evidence first. Even establishing that the phenomenon exists is part of the process of gathering empirical evidence. Where Aristotle and the other early natural philosophers went wrong was asserting that things existed with no evidence whatsoever;

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Your own example fails you. It is quite possible to propose a set of axioms that lead to a system where 2+2 is NOT 4. In fact, two of "anything" plus two of "anything" does not always add up to four. Two steps north plus two steps west, for example. Or a sine wave of amplitude 2 plus a cosine wave of amplitude 2. Notice also that these observations lead us into richer areas of mathematics.

          Mathematics is useful where it matches up with what happens in the real world, as determined by experiment, NOT bec

      • If you read an accurate (i.e. non-worshipfull) biography of pretty well any "great man", you will find that they were all egotistical, self-promoting assholes. Otherwise, you would have probably never heard of them.
    • by taustin (171655)

      Speaking of false history, Copernicus didn't "prove" heliocenticity. In fact, he only agree to let his work be published on his deathbead because he couldn't prove it.

      And as a side note, neither could Galileo, though his use of the telescope was an important piece of the puzzle. But proof wasn't possible until Newton came up with (perhaps invtented, though that's arguable these days, too) calculus (and the idea that planetary orbits aren't perfectly circular).

      But yeah, Galileo's real problem with the church

    • Well, let's not be so impolite. Nevertheless, I agree that Galileo was strongly driven by his desire to win whatever debate he was involved in. This was a serious character flaw, and a big problem in his dealings with the Inquisition. They allowed him the out of saying that the Earth's motion was merely a convenient hypothesis. That would have been consistent with his argument that the Earth's motion was not detectable by its inhabitants because motion is relative. But he wouldn't take the next obvious step

  • Why would you debate why ice floats with a philosopher? The reason is that it is less dense. There is no philosophical reason why it floats. There is also no reason to bring wood, duck or witches into the question.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @03:50PM (#44680163)

      1611 was a different place.

    • by sjames (1099) on Monday August 26, 2013 @03:52PM (#44680181) Homepage

      At the time, science was seen as an offshoot of philosophy (natural philosophy).

      • by hyperquantization (804651) on Monday August 26, 2013 @04:36PM (#44680583)

        ...science was seen as an offshoot of philosophy...

        And it remains a descendent: Science research eventually relies upon arguments set forth by Mathematics, which relies upon arguments set forth by Philosophy.

        Heck, even the fact that you can have a logical argument relies upon the work of Philosophers. The biggest reason why modern Philosophers are not typically proficient Scientists boils down to the fact that they likely occupy their time reading different books, and thus aren't well-versed in the necessary esoterica.

        • The REAL reason modern Philosophers are not typically proficient Scientists or Mathematicians is that those fields became subjects beyond their ability to comprehend without a lot of effort, and save for a few exceptions they are uninterested in putting on the necessary effort to accomplish this goal, even when the branch of the philosophy in question is something like epistemology whose objective is to analyze knowledge. That is what makes modern Philosophy so useless.
          • ...they are uninterested in putting on the necessary effort to accomplish this goal...

            sounds a lot like...

            ...they don't spend their time putting effort towards learning the necessary material...

            which sounds a lot like...

            ...they don't likely occupy their time reading the right kind of books...

            ...and you see where I'm going. It's called "boiling it down", in case you were wondering.

            But, seriously, what do you have against Philosophy? I'm willing to bet you weren't very appreciative of History class, either.

            • Oh, I am very found of History books and Philosophy. What I am not found of is modern Philosophy, which has very little to do with classical Philosophy or with anything remotely useful for anybody except for those who practice it and are paid for it, usually with academic funds.
      • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:12AM (#44683031) Homepage Journal

        >At the time, science was seen as an offshoot of philosophy (natural philosophy).

        This is something that confuses a lot of modern readers who look at the Galileo Affair.

        When they see a churchman making "philosophical" arguments against Galileo, they assume it is due to some preposterous navel-gazing argument, not knowing the primary objection to Galileo came from people we'd call scientists today.

        Galileo was making claims contrary to the founder of "science", Aristotle, and couldn't answer the counter-objections that scientists raised. The debate was taken to the authorities, the Roman Catholic Church, who told Galileo that they loved his theory, but that he didn't have enough evidence yet (and rightly so) to call it settled science. Contrary to the prevailing belief (and a forged letter claiming this) Galileo was not prohibited from teaching heliocentrism, just from teaching it as accepted fact. The Pope - a friend of his, and who believed his theory but was worried about making sudden changes in society - in fact encouraged Galileo to publish a comparison of heliocentrism and geocentrism, discussing the relative merits of each. Galileo, in typical nerd fashion, wrote a book that said heliocentrism is great, and anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot, including you, Mr. Pope. *This* is what got Galileo subject to house arrest. Not heliocentrism (which was utterly uncontroversial up until Galileo flipped off the pope - Copernicus was well received).

        • by sjames (1099)

          Yes. Giving the Pope the finger was a bad idea in those days (it's not a GREAT idea now, but you won't see that sort of trouble over it).

    • by bmacs27 (1314285)
      I would debate with a philosopher because it is less dense?
    • Your high school education has definitely failed you if you weren't taught about the origins of science. The road to absolute empirical clarity was a long one. (Isaac Newton was an occultist in his day!)
    • Are you suggesting that a witch and a duck (and by extension, ice) do not have the same weight?

    • by s.petry (762400)

      Until very recent history all Scientists were also considered to be Philosophers. Science still uses Philosophy (the scientific method, rational thought, critical thinking, rhetoric, logic, ethics) all the time. There has been a huge push to try and make Philosophy less attractive to people, and we no longer teach Philosophy at young ages. Personally I believe we should go back to the trivium and quadrivium methods of education with updates where applicable.

  • Wrong on ice... (Score:4, Informative)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Monday August 26, 2013 @03:50PM (#44680165)

    If samzenpus had bothered to read the article, he would know that it explains, very clearly, that Galileo was right on the question of why ice floats. He was apparently wrong in some of the reasoning that he used to explain another effect (a disc of ebony floating on water due to surface tension).

    Maybe samzenpus should go back to posting more science fiction...

  • but they aren't wrong ALL the time, and that's the best we can do.

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      Or we can avoid the logical fallacy of argument from authority [wikipedia.org], and remember that A) being an expert in one field does not make you an expert in others, and B) even experts can disagree. Roger Penrose may be a brilliant and gifted mathematician, but his speculations on the nature of consciousness remain purely speculative, and, until someone comes up with a testable hypothesis, all speculations on string theory remain equally plausible.

      Seriously, how is this worth an entire article? This is a tiny, tiny par

  • Obviously... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday August 26, 2013 @03:56PM (#44680213)

    Ice floats because it's a witch [qedcat.com].

  • Paper-clips float on water, if you place them in flat and very carefully.

    I just had to raid the office supplies cabinet and try it...

    • by bmacs27 (1314285)
      Please define useful.
    • Paper-clips float on water, if you place them in flat and very carefully.
      I just had to raid the office supplies cabinet and try it...

      I hear that super-tankers [wikipedia.org] do too, though I can't test that myself as our office supply cabinet is fresh out.

      • by PPH (736903)

        Simple deductive reasoning: Super tankers are made of the same stuff as paperclips.

      • by oobayly (1056050)

        I would think that paper clips flat because of surface tension, not displacement.

        Also, who runs out of super tankers? We have to have several in reserve because people keep nicking them.

  • Galileo was right about why ice floats, it is less dense than water and buoyant force comes into equilibrium with weight when a portion of ice is out of the water.

    The only thing "wrong" presented in article was small matter of shape under extraordinary conditions where surface tension can dominate over lack of buoyancy.

    • by bmacs27 (1314285)
      His wrongness was definitely a bit oversold. That said, he was wrong in the strength of his assertion. I have a pet peeve with overly stubborn reductionist thinkers that assert things like "The only reason X happens is because of Y." It's rarely the case that one measurable quantity provides a complete explanation. The look on his face when the wafer of ebony floated must have been priceless. I can just imagine how much of a dick he was being. "But... but... it's the air... or something... YOU CHEATED
      • by iggymanz (596061)

        I'm surprised no one caught onto surface tension, you can see it by slightly overfilling glass, a wibbly wobbly bubble (to use technical terms) held together by surface tension can be made to extend beyond and above the rim

        • by Ch_Omega (532549)

          I'm surprised no one caught onto surface tension

          Obiously someone caught onto surface tension, or you wouldn't have been able to make that comment. :)

  • From TFA

    Galileo argued that comets were optical illusions (they are most definitely physical objects) and that ocean tides were the result of oceans sloshing around from Earth’s rotation (tides have more to do with the moon’s gravitational pull).

    Did anyone else find it strange that a page called "Chemical & Engineering News" would need to point out that comets are real and that the moon's gravity is a factor in the cause of tides?

  • The Modern Way (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SnarfQuest (469614) on Monday August 26, 2013 @04:22PM (#44680433)

    He was ignorant of modern scientific efforts. Nowadays, we take a vote among political activists, come up with a consensus, and ridicule anyone who believes in the minority. We don't need any of that mathematical proof or experimental evidence crap. It saves a lot of time. As soon as you have a majority, you can start belittling everyone else.

    We are no longer hobbled by those ancient, useless beliefs, like "the scientific method". Ours is the enlightened age!

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Nah, you don't even need a majority. You just need to claim you have a majority and have friends in the media who'll mindlessly parrot whatever crap you send them.

  • Although Galileo’s explanation for why ice floats on water was closer to the truth than his opponent’s arguments, Galileo also belittled legitimate, contradictory evidence given by his opponent

    So did he call him a denier, or claim he was on the payroll of the someone with questionable motives?

  • Although Galileo’s explanation for why ice floats on water was closer to the truth than his opponent’s arguments...

    Of COURSE the almighty Galileo was right! (heh)

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Monday August 26, 2013 @05:51PM (#44681231) Homepage

    Is that he was an arrogant ass and often wrong. The Catholic church did not have issue with Galileo's heliocentric view, in fact, the Catholic church has a method to accept and alter their understandings of such natural actions.

    The issue is that Galileo's arguments left doubt. Ironically, there were some contemporaries whose work could have aided Galileo's proof of his view. However, he has pretty much dismissed those individuals and their works as wrong. And done so extremely rudely.

    The real issue of Galileo's is that he came out postulating "FACT" while by-passing the equivalent of "peer review" for the day. The pope was actually rather fond of Galileo and his work. But refused to acknowledge Galileo's theories as fact, despite his fondness. Then Galileo chose to be a bigger arse. And wrote a book publicly insulting the Pope. It's funny, as we still have this issue in science today over peer review, and early publication statements.

    Do you know what the big punishment was? I've read comments deriding the church for executing Galileo. When in truth, Galileo was given a backhanded patronage. He was put on a house arrest. But pretty much had most of his means taken care of, was free to continue his work. It was essentially a public censure.

    Ironically, I was unaware of most of these facts until a few years ago. When reading the 1632 series, I started to research Galileo Galilei.

    "The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could be supported as only a possibility, not an established fact."

    That is not obstruction of science by the church, pope, nada. That is merely saying "Hey, before you declare something as fact, you need to be able to prove it."

    Alas, the failure of science here, is to hide this blemish in the failure of history. So we go and teach how Galileo was persecuted for thinking differently. No, Galileo was in trouble for being a rude arrogant ass who couldn't back up his claims.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      When in truth, Galileo was given a backhanded patronage. He was put on a house arrest.

      Because he backed down, unlike Bruno, who was burned to death by "his Holiness". Gee, I wonder why?

  • Galileo was not wrong about ice at all! Read TFA and you will see it plain as day, the submitted topic is absolutely wrong. Galileo stated that density is why ice floats, where the person he was debating claimed it was all shape. Galileo was more correct than the person he was debating.

    Galileo was wrong with reasoning for an experiment his opponent had, and kind of wrong about the objects shape having the ability to make an object float. Surface tension was unknown at the time, and surface tension while

  • Galileo was the world's first Slashdot poster!

  • Surprising threads (Score:4, Insightful)

    by irenaeous (898337) on Monday August 26, 2013 @05:59PM (#44681309) Journal
    I have posted here as a Christian, gotten some support and some flaming from internet atheists on the site, though not much because I try to be a good slashdot citizen with most of my posts having nothing to do with religion per se. So, I am surprised by the relative balance here and think that most of the posters have been too easy on the Catholic Church and the Pope -- the opposite of what I usually see. Galileo may have been an asshole in some respects and provoked the reaction against him. I don't think it is uncommon in true Geniuses of his type to behave this way. But now a days we do not try our resident Geniuses before a kangaroo court of law or inquisition and force them to plead guilty of crimes that shouldn't be crimes and that they didn't do anyway, recant under the threat of torture, burn their work and publicly condemn them in every university, then sentence them to life imprisonment. (This sentence was commuted to permanent house arrest after the trial.)
  • There's a passage in one of the Hitchhiker's Guide books where Arthur decides to fall faster than his girlfriend despite what they teach you about Galileo in school. Turns out you can actually do that. I have a terminal velocity range of about 125 mph to 165 mph depending on how I orient myself, and instructors will put weights on to fall faster. The first time I heard this I was like "But... But... Galileo!" One does not tend to expect that to work with wind resistance, but it does! If you make a skydiver
    • Your terminal velocity depends on a number of factors, one of which is air resistance. That's why a spider can fall off of a sky scraper and land safely and why a mouse can survive a larger fall than a horse. One of the reasons that cats often survive big falls is that after they orient themselves feet-first, they spread their legs, making an improvised parachute out of their body and slowing themselves down. There's an excellent example of different falling rates at the beginning of GoldenEye, [wikipedia.org] where Bon
      • by Greyfox (87712)
        Yeah. A lot of people seem to have some misconceptions about falling, though. It seems Douglas Adams thought that two bodies should fall at the same speed, otherwise Arthur would not have had to resort to extreme measures (of deciding to fall faster heh heh) to overcome the speed differential. Quite often when I tell my non-skydiving friends people put weights on to fall faster, they get confused. What they learned in school is that really shouldn't work. They never factor wind resistance into the equation.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        That's why a spider can fall off of a sky scraper and land safely and why a mouse can survive a larger fall than a horse.

        Well, that and square-cube law.

      • There's an excellent example of different falling rates at the beginning of GoldenEye, [wikipedia.org] where Bond falls faster than a light plane, gets into the cabin and pulls it out of the dive.

        Yeeesss... while possible, I don't think I'd use it as an "excellent example." If we're sticking with the Bond universe, I'd go for Moonraker, where Bond slips out of Jaws's grasp by opening his parachute and suddenly falling much slower than Jaws is - mainly because it was a real stunt, not an effect.

  • It seems like Galileo's and delle Colombe's arguments both had some elements of applicability over certain regimes.

    They just were both so pigheaded that they were unwilling to accept that both of their ideas had partially captured some physics.

    Less combativeness and more teamwork might have integrated the buoyancy and surface tension effects into a unified theory in their debate.

  • Delle Colombe: ice ... more dense than water... buoyancy -- a matter of shape only

    Galileo: Archimedes theory, shape of an object does not affect whether the object would sink or float

    TFA: Galileo then went too far, had not accounted for surface tension

    TFA went too far, in a spoken debate "ice floats because of shape" vs "density" the shape can and should be taken out of equation.

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