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Press and Pop Culture

Galileo In Vienna

In Vienna’s 13th district stands a beautiful Jugendstil building, the Galileihof. Designed by and built by Emil Reitmann in 1905, the building appears to have been renovated not long ago. Vienna is strangely committed to Galileo. In addition to the Galileihof, on the other side of town is the Galileigasse, which has a beautiful relief […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Jimmy Kimmel & Galileo

A couple nights ago Jimmy Kimmel aired a segment that followed “Jake Byrd” at last fall’s Flat Earth Conference in Dallas. In true “Jake Byrd” fashion, he is quick witted and irreverent. But I am not particularly interested in Byrd’s performance or the content of the segment itself.1 I am more interested in Jimmy Kimmel’s […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Kanye West & Galileo

Kanye West’s recent interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live took an unexpected turn when West invoked Galileo, implying that they were both misunderstood geniuses who wouldn’t be silenced by bullies telling them what to think. West was responding to Kimmel, who had asked about West’s views on the president.[1] I’m not interested West’s opinions about the […]

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Pulp Scholarship

Galileo’s Courtesan

In a conversation recently, a student commented something like, “At first I couldn’t recall the title of Biagioli’s book. All I could think of was Galileo Courtesan.”[1] His remark prompted me to wonder what would scholarship look like if written as mid–20th-century pulp fiction. Maybe something like this: I would give anything to stumble across […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Science won’t prevail unless …

“Science Will Prevail,” Anzar Abbas reassures readers in his recent op-ed. Although the Trump administration “wants to ignore facts and instead believe whatever makes it feel most comfortable,” he is confident that “no matter what an ignorant administration may throw at science and reason, it will prevail. It always has.” To make his case, Abbas […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Weekly Roundup: History of Science Videos & NSF Report

The History Channel Distorts History A number of the videos at the History Channel’s “Enlightenment” page deal with the history of science—on Isaac Newton, the Scientific Revolution, and a series Beyond the Big Ban: Copernicus, Beyond the Big Ban: Galileo and Beyond the Big Ban: Newton. Some gesture to interesting points, e.g., the interaction between […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Illustrating Galileo, ca. 1955

In 1952 F. Sherwood Taylor delivered the Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution on “How Science has Grown.” These became the basis for his book, An Illustrated History of Science. One reviewer praised Taylor for having “simply and concisely presented the panorama of science from the ancient Sumeria of some 7,000 years ago up to […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Alice Bell on Brecht’s Life of Galileo

Our scientist is an anti-hero not just for dramatic reasons or historical accuracy, but because Brecht wants to argue for collective rather than individual agency when it comes to understanding our world and working out how to make it better. The rallying cry of this play is to build a science and technology for the […]

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Historical Expertise

History is Always Advocacy

In the comments to the post Gopnik on Galileo people have raised some good points that warrant further reflection. I want to begin by underscoring my point in that post: Gopnik repeats a number of problematic historical tropes. Historians of science have for years refuted those tropes, revealing how and why they are fallacious. Despite […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Gopnik on Galileo

Adam Gopnik’s essay in The New Yorker, “Moon Man. What Galileo Saw,” swings between unfortunate mischaracterizations and reasonable statements. We sigh as we read the worn-out myth about Galileo as the founder of modern science (there are various critiques of such founder myths): The founder of modern science had to wait three hundred years, but […]