“A Troublesome Pioneer: Galileo Galilei” at UC Berkeley International Year of Astronomy Talks: 07.18.09

by Eric on July 17, 2009

For this month’s talk, Roger Hahn, retired Professor of History, will be talking about Galileo Galilei:

Galileo revolutionized astronomy by turning his telescope to the heavens in 1609. The full story of his achievements is replete with complications that make it difficult for modern man to realize how troublesome his discoveries were in his own times. Many of them stem from Galileo’s personality which was calculated to upset the established order; others from the changes his pioneering work forced upon traditional astronomers, and more especially upon the Catholic Church. 400 years later we picture him as a critical link in the progress of our understanding; but in his own times he was soundly criticized and properly condemned.

Born in France, Roger Hahn, now retired as a Professor of History, has taught the history of science at Berkeley for the past 48 years, and is an expert on classical celestial mechanics of the solar system. His latest book was a biography of Pierre Simon Laplace whose work completed the Scientific Revolution Galileo helped to advance. More than many other past figures of significance, Galileo has been exclusively judged by modern standards. As a professional historian, Hahn is a strong believer in setting the past in its context. Seen in this perspective Galileo was a serious troublemaker. He deserved much of the reproach he encountered.

The talk will take place in the Genetics and Plant Biology Building,
Room 100. Doors will open at 10:30. We would like to start the talks on
time, and avoid disruption from people entering the auditorium during
the talks, so please try to arrive at least 10 minutes before the start.

For more details visit UC Berkeley Astronomy’s International Year of Astronomy page. You can also watch videos of previous talks.

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