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Did Galileo Galilei ignore observations?

A new study that examined the writings of a German astronomer from the time of Galileo Galilei suggests that Galileo supported Copernicus' picture of the universe despite the observations he received.

The orbits of the stars according to Tycho Brahe
The orbits of the stars according to Tycho Brahe
One of the basic rules of writing a scientific report is absolute adherence to observations and measurements. Even if it "didn't turn out" the way we wanted, we must write in the report the truth, only the truth and the whole truth. Would Galileo Galilei have received a failing grade?

Galileo Galilei, who is considered the father of modern astronomy, championed Copernicus' view of the universe in which the planets (planets), including the Earth, revolve around the Sun. Many are familiar with the slogan "Nonetheless, keep moving!" attributed to Galileo. As we know, Galileo was right. But at the same time, a competing worldview emerged, developed by the celebrated Danish astronomer Tycho Barha, according to which the Earth is stationary, the Sun and Moon revolve around the Earth, and the planets revolve around the Sun. According to this view the rest of the stars are embedded in a fixed sphere in the background.

How can you differentiate between the two approaches? Copernicus' system requires that the stars, which today we know to be other suns, be at a great distance from Earth, while in Barha's system, the calculations showed that the stars and planets are much closer. Therefore, the astronomers determined that it was possible to determine the distance by looking through a telescope: if the stars were far away they would appear as dots (or as pinheads), and if they were close they would appear as a circular disk.

An examination of Galileo's telescope showed that Galileo actually saw discs, and if he had been faithful to the observations he would have concluded that Barha's system was the correct one. In 2008, the American researcher Christopher Grani made the claim that the light that reached Galileo's eyes in the telescope he built was affected by a phenomenon called circumvention - a physical phenomenon that was not known in Galileo's time. Light that passes from a distant point source (like a star) and passes through a small hole (like the opening of a telescope), creates a diffraction pattern that looks like circles surrounding the light source, called an Airy pattern. Had not Galileo, who did not know the phenomenon of eclipse, stuck to the observations come to the conclusion that he was seeing the disks of the stars themselves, and hence they are close, and here Brahe and not Copernicus was right.

And this is indeed what was discovered by the German astronomer Simon Marius who became famous for the names he gave to Jupiter's moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) - the moons whose discoveries are attributed to Galileo, but Marius claimed to have discovered them a week before him. When Christopher Grani examined the writings of Marius, he found evidence that Marius, who was more strict than Galileo, believed that the rings were part of the star, and therefore Copernicus' view was wrong.

Whether Galileo did not notice this or whether he chose not to include in his reports results that contradicted his belief - we do not know. But this is not the only case in the history of science that brilliant scientists saw the truth despite the observations. It should also be remembered that there was other evidence that supported Copernicus' view and the debate about this continued for a long time.

And in any case - what Galileo allowed himself 400 years ago, is not acceptable in today's science.

for further reading

You can see Barha's map of the sky compared to Copernicus' map of the sky on the wall to the left of the Science Center in Hamada.

Galileo backed Copernicus despite data

Angular resolution of a telescope

9 תגובות

  1. With your permission, gentlemen, I will try to raise a slightly different note regarding the issue in question.
    I claim that it is possible that both approaches that appear in the article and in the comments are correct.
    It is very possible that Galileo did not attach too much importance to the scientific observations of his time
    He allowed himself to ignore the proposed interpretation of the "bypass" effect, but for a different reason
    This is what appears in the article.
    In my opinion, Galileo as a fairly intelligent person, was well aware of the primitiveness of the technology of his day!!!
    Please do not forget that the invention of the telescope is attributed to Galileo. Even if he wasn't the "real-first-inventor" of the telescope, it is indisputable that Galileo improved and perfected the telescope greatly in comparison to the versions
    who were before him. Galileo was even the one who gave the telescope its name.
    In my estimation, during Galileo's time, the formulation of scientific theories in general was done with less reliance
    about technology in relation to today. The process was something like this:
    If the theory seemed good enough, then an effort would be made to develop a state-of-the-art technology that could
    check the solidity of the theory. "Scientific intuition" was more important than today
    of the scientist. In other words, Galileo knew that the blurry image he was seeing in his telescope
    still does not reveal all, or even most, of the information necessary for the study of the universe.
    It should be noted that even today, the research process of the undeciphered scientific issues is similar
    more than the days of Galileo. Even today, if there are no instruments to measure the dark mass, for example, then intuition
    The scientific method of the researchers is a dominant research instrument, (although definitely not the only one), at the same time we do
    An effort for technological developments that will help in measuring and deciphering the phenomenon.

  2. Lazvi and others
    I believe it was so because that's how things always go. Progress is made through compromises that hopefully will be accepted on everything.
    And from Galileo's personality, I believe that he was not ready for compromises but tried to introduce the heliocentric approach in a kind of debate about the two methods that is conducted in his book. But the church did not accept it and asked him to apologize as he did.
    I say these things in my opinion but someone may have said it before me and I'm just repeating his words so please don't accuse me of plagiarism.
    Good night
    Sabdarmish Yehuda

  3. Galileo ignored quite a few things.
    First of all he could not prove the Copernican model because Hella continued to insist on circular orbits. In fact there was no advantage over Ptolemy's model. It was Kepler who discovered the elliptical orbits and thus made the model simpler. In addition, according to Galileo's calculations, the rotation of the earth around its axis was supposed to cause one tidal cycle per day. He therefore dismissed the double cycle as a measurement error.

    The story with the church is shrouded in legends. While there is room for criticism of the use of the Inquisition, Galileo was unable to provide conclusive evidence for the movement of the Earth and throughout his career he behaved arrogantly. In fact, the monk who confronted him was actually of Galileo's opinion, but only for the purpose of the hearing he had to present an opposing position. As mentioned, Galileo did not present conclusive evidence for Copernicus' method, and the church was not in a hurry to give up its traditional position.

  4. Ptolemy's model was also based on observations, and in fact after I delved into it beyond "as if the earth is the center of the universe" I discovered that it provides many data based on observations, just as it also predicted the movement of many celestial bodies - 2 data that according to modern standards of research indeed base theories. I certainly understand why it was difficult to break away from it, and that it was not blind faith, what people nowadays think about it and the widespread distribution of this method.
    Regarding the two models - both are based to the same extent on the observations, at least only regarding the solar system, and the difference is only in determining the reference point (principle of the axes) of the system.
    If Galileo did do this, it is not only unacceptable - but also improper. What is written about scientists who know how to see the truth - bullshit. As today there are a large number of theories about the elementary structure of atoms - not all methods are correct even though every scientist advocating his own method thinks it is the correct one, and basing on some supporting facts and ignoring contradicting ones does not make the research reliable - and proving or disproving the research in the end is a matter of luck - And not thanks to the "research work". If he did do this, and the end would not have revealed that the sun is the center of the system, then his research method would not have been treated with the same weight, even though it would not have changed but only the results he achieved thanks to it.

  5. I agree with Zvi's words and add:
    The "results" that Galileo ignored were not results but conclusions drawn by others as a result of a misinterpretation of the findings.
    There is no reason to think that Galileo did not interpret the findings differently (and correctly).
    After all, all scientific theories are interpretations of findings, and the claim that Galileo ignored the findings when he did not deduce their distance from the size of the image of the stars in the telescope is similar to the claim that Einstein did not deduce from the "finding" that velocities add up the conclusion that the theory of relativity is wrong.

  6. Yehuda,

    I had heard of Tycho Brahe as an observer before, but I had not heard of his theory, so it is very possible that you know better than I do.
    Are you saying that the Breha method was built to defend the church's approach based on explicit information, or just based on your opinion because "that's how it smells to you" (and I can understand why it smells that way)
    (This is not a peevish question but a completely genuine question)

  7. Galileo was brave enough to realize that Tycho Barha's method is half tea and half coffee. He understood that this was a method built to somehow protect the church's approach - the accepted one - against a new approach - the heliocentric one.
    This is a phenomenon that always repeats itself throughout history
    The first steamships had sails, the first jets had propellers
    It does not seem to me that Galileo did not believe in the heliocentric method
    Good night
    Sabdarmish Yehuda

  8. The first sentence is unfairly misleading.

    It is written that "Galileo supported Copernicus' picture of the universe despite the observations he received", while in the body of the article it is stated that "whether Galileo did not notice this or whether he chose not to include in his reports results that contradicted his belief - we do not know".

    That is, there is no actual evidence that Galileo "ignored results" and it is nothing more than a speculative guess.

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