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GALILEO GALILEI
GALILEO GALILEI
Arcetri, Tuscany, Italy (1564 - 1642)
Galileo Galilei was a Tuscan physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and support for Copernicanism. His contributions to observational astronomy include the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter and the observation and analysis of sunspots.
 

Enjoy these insightful and educational video clips drawn from over 70 hours of interviews with the world's leading figures in astronomy, shot during the filming of 400 Years of the Telescope.

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Owen Gingerich

Literal interpretations of creation
Owen Gingerich - Harvard University

Literalistic interpretation will cause you to run into trouble. This was a big issue at the time of Galileo, for example. After all, Psalm 104 says the Lord God laid the foundation of the Earth that it not be moved forever. Many of the Catholic theologians said that ruled out the moving of the Earth in the Copernican system.

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Owen Gingerich

A pre-Copernican model of the universe
Owen Gingerich - Harvard University

When Copernicus gave the idea that it was the Sun, and not the Earth that was at the middle, that the earth was racing around the sun every year and spinning on its axis, it seemed the height of ridiculousness.

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Owen Gingerich

Ptolemy and King Alfonso
Owen Gingerich - Harvard University

Thereís a wonderful story about King Alfonso in the 13th century looking over the shoulders of his astronomers who were making tables for the prediction of planets. King Alfonso is supposed to have said if he had been around at creation, he could have given the good Lord some hints, the idea being that the system seemed so complicated.

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Owen Gingerich

Ptolemy's view of the cosmos
Owen Gingerich - Harvard University

Ptolemyís view of the cosmos was to use circles. After all, circles are wonderful for celestial motions because they go on, round and round forever. No stopping and starting. A circle is the obvious way to try to get that kind of motion, and he was very clever in how he combined the circles.

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Owen Gingerich

Science is cosmic modeling
Owen Gingerich - Harvard University

Science is modeling the universe. It is a way of making a kind of map that you can then use to predict the future, the future of motion of things, letís say. Or, if youíre talking about gravity, predict how a spacecraft can go to Saturn.

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Owen Gingerich

Stonehenge
Owen Gingerich - Harvard University

You donít discover the Stonehenge; you build Stonehenge to commemorate the discovery.

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Owen Gingerich

Technological change
Owen Gingerich - Harvard University

The biggest technological change is one, the replacement of the photographic plate by electronic detectors because the photographic emulsion before itís developed is white. Itís a wonderful reflector.

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Owen Gingerich

The Renaissance: religion and science
Owen Gingerich - Harvard University

You have to understand that the Renaissance was a time of many new things; the exploration of the New World, the discovery of printing, religious upheaval. In many ways there was a newness in looking at the universe and Galileoís telescope observations were part of that. It brought a fresh perspective. It made people much more open to accepting a cosmos that was different from what had been grown up during the Middle Ages.

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Owen Gingerich

Why I became an astronomer
Owen Gingerich - Harvard University

And have been one ever since. I was an undergraduate in a small college in Indiana and I came out here during the summers and worked here at the observatory. When I applied to graduate school, the only place I applied to was Harvard, which by current standards would be insane.

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Richard Green

Techniques in adaptive optics
Richard Green - Large Binocular Telescope (LBT)

I think that the techniques of adaptive optics are already of interest for improving individualsí vision because you can easily imagine compensating for the blur on a hot day.

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