Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
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Inspired by a long fascination with Galileo, and by the remarkable surviving letters of his daughter Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun, Dava Sobel has crafted a biography that dramatically recolors the personality and accomplishments of a mythic figure whose early-seventeenth-century clash with Catholic doctrine continues to define the schism between science and religion-the man Albert Einstein called "the father of modern physics-indeed of modern science altogether." It is also a stunning portrait of Galileo's daughter, a person hitherto lost to history, described by her father as "a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and most tenderly attached to me."
Moving between Galileo's grand public life and Maria Celeste's sequestered world, Sobel illuminates the Florence of the Medicis and the papal court in Rome during the pivotal era when humanity's perception of its place in the cosmos was about to be overturned. During that same time, while the bubonic plague wreaked its terrible devastation and the Thirty Years' War tipped fortunes across Europe, Galileo sought to reconcile the Heaven he revered as a good Catholic with the heavens he revealed through his telescope. Filled with human drama and scientific adventure, Galileo's Daughter is an unforgettable story.
Praise for Galileo's Daughter :
"[Sobel] shows herself a virtuoso at encapsulating the history and the politics of science. Her descriptions of Galileo's ideas…are pithy, vivid, and intelligible."-Wall Street Journal
impact on Galileo’s life, however, was the one he sent to Cosimo, along with his own superior telescope. The prince expressed his thanks late in the spring of 1610 by appointing Galileo “Chief Mathematician of the University of Pisa and Philosopher and Mathematician to the Grand Duke.” Galileo had specifically stipulated the addition of “Philosopher” to his title, giving himself greater prestige, but he insisted on maintaining “Mathematician” as well, for he intended to prove the importance of
Discoveries and Opinions, pp. 183-84). The opening of Galileo’s letter to Madama Cristina, “Some years ago . . . their purposes,” comes from Drake’s translation (Discoveries and Opinions, p. 175). Continuing the letter, “Possibly because . . . the Bible,” still from Drake (Discoveries and Opinions, p. 177); “Let us grant . . . his edifices” (Discoveries and Opinions, p. 193); and “To ban Copernicus . . . thousands of years” (Discoveries and Opinions, p. 196). [VII] The malico of my
hailed Galileo, Already the minds of men are assailing the heavens, and gain strength with every acquisition. You have led in scaling the walls, and have brought back the awarded crown. Now others follow your lead with the greater courage, knowing that once you have broken the ice for them it would indeed be base not to press so happy and honorable an undertaking. See, then, what has arrived from a friend of mine; and if it does not come to you as anything really new, as I suppose,
works and divinely read in the open book of Heaven. For let no one believe that reading the lofty concepts written in that book leads to nothing further than the mere seeing of the splendor of the Sun and the stars and their rising and setting, which is as far as the eyes of brutes and of the vulgar can penetrate. Within its pages are couched mysteries so profound and concepts so sublime that the vigils, labors, and studies of hundreds upon hundreds of the most acute minds have still not pierced
of the compassion of the Lord God, with Whom I leave you. Closing with regards to you from everyone here, and in particular from Suor Arcangela and Suor Luisa, who for now, as far as her health is concerned, is getting along passing well. FROM SAN MATTEO, THE 7TH DAY OF MAY 1633- Most affectionate daughter, The hard-to-fill prescription for plague preventive that Suor Maria Celeste enclosed on a separate slip of paper has not survived with her letter. Perhaps Galileo lost the recipe