Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Denier vs. the Consensus

Galileo was an earth-centered-universe denier. In this year, the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s building of the first powerful astronomical telescope, it is good to look at his life and legacy.

The scientific, political, and religious “consensus” in his day was that the earth stood still and the universe revolved around it. This was Ptolemy’s theory. Because of the things he saw through his telescope, Galileo championed the theory of Copernicus that the earth and all the planets revolve around the sun. Because his views did not match the “consensus,” he was required to recant his views and spend the rest of his life under house arrest.

Scientists of the day had it all worked out: their models explained the motions of the planets and stars as they saw them. It was neat and tidy. There was just one problem:

The “consensus” was wrong.
The “denier” was right.

Thank you, Galileo.