Gingerich to speak on Galileo

October 5, 2004


Faculty are encouraged to invite their students to attend a special presentation on Galileo by Owen Gingerich, Harvard astronomer and historian of science, on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. in 163 Campus Center.

Gingerich''s lecture, which is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, is entitled "Galileo: Hero or Heretic?"

In 1616 in a letter destined for Galileo, Cardinal Bellarmine expressed his doubts about finding evidence for a moving earth. The cardinal wouldn’t have been swayed by modern "proofs," even though they are convincing to us today because we have the advantage of an advanced framework. When truth in science is best understood as a comprehensive system of coherencies supported more by persuasion than proofs, what follows in other areas of investigation for truth?

Gingerich is senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and research professor of astronomy and of the history of science at Harvard University. He has been vice president of the American Philosophical Society (America''s oldest scientific academy) and he has served as chairman of the U.S. National Committee of the International Astronomical Union. Besides more than 500 articles and reviews, his annotated census of 16th- century copies of "De revolutionibus" by Copernicus has now been published as a monograph. Gingerich is the recipient of the Harvard-Radcliffe Phi Beta Kappa prize for excellence in teaching, and an asteroid has been named in his honor. Gingerich’s latest book, "The Book Nobody Read, Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus," was published in March.

Contact Arthur F. Kinney ( of the Center for Renaissance Studies, a sponsor of this event, for more information.