Monday, April 27, 2009

The First Man to See

“I render infinite thanks to God for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries.”  (p 6)  

These words of Galileo Galilei appear early in the book, Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel.  Think of the feeling Galileo must have had when he became the first person ever to see the valleys and mountains of the moon, the dark masses of sunspots moving across the face of the sun, and the moons, (which he referred to as planets), of Jupiter. Imagine living in a world with no concept of gravity, with no true common understanding of the physical make-up of  your own planetary system or even of your own body.  A few years before Galileo's telescope, Copernicus used mathematics and his own genius to posit a sun-centered universe.  Soon after, Galileo looked through his telescope to reveal the truth, unpopular though it was at the time.  What bravery it takes to speak the truth to people who don't want to hear it.   Out of the darkness of centuries of common ignorance, a few men intuited, and some later proved, truths that were once believed to be only the province of the gods.


The Civilian said...

Imagine trying to tell a bunch of stubborn old assholes that we're not the center of the universe!!!

Now that's courageously revolutionary....

Amy said...

I'll tell you what, the more of this book I read, the angrier I get!