Galileo Galilei and the beginning of physics


This video says about itself:

Galileo (1975) – Joseph Losey (1)

This bio-film is based on Bertold Brecht‘s play about Galileo Galilei, the 17th century Italian who laid the foundations of modern science. Galileo made himself one of the world’s first telescopes and discovered the moons of Jupiter.

He supported Copernicus’ theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun. This brought him in conflict with the Catholic Church. By threatening him with torture, the Church forced him to recant his views in front of a tribunal, and sentenced him to house arrest. However, Galileo’s trials and theories inspired others like Newton and Kepler to prove that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe. Some years ago, the Pope accepted that Earth does revolve around the Sun and issued a rare apology for what the Church had done to Galileo, i.e., the Catholic Church recanted.

By Henry Allan and Bryan Dyne:

The beginning of modern physics

9 September 2014

Renaissance Genius: Galileo Galilei and His Legacy to Modern Science, David Whitehouse, Sterling, 2009 (US $24.95)

This volume is a welcome contribution to the study of the Italian Renaissance, written by the British archeologist David Whitehouse. It gives a comprehensive view of the world of the Italian Renaissance at a time when ideas, discoveries and new inventions accelerated the clash of science with the medieval institution of the Roman Catholic Church. The book’s primary focus is the life and work of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), whose persecution by the Church reflects the tribulations of most of the progressive thinkers of the time.

The book was published to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the year when Galileo turned his significantly improved version of the telescope to the night skies and began to draw the phases of the moon. It is lavishly illustrated with paintings, photographs, and illustrations that depict the time in which Galileo lived, his life, friends, colleagues, adversaries and persecutors.

As Renaissance Genius shows, this was the time of the Inquisition and its imprisonment, torture, and heinous executions of those deemed “heretics.” This included anyone who challenged existing church doctrine, particularly those developing the new techniques of observation, experimentation and the combination of the two with mathematics. Among those persecuted were Giordano Bruno, Antonio de Dominis and Galileo himself.Galileo Galilei

Vincenzo Galilei, Galileo‘s father, was a mathematician and music theorist who challenged traditional beliefs in the infallibility of Greek philosophic thought backed by both church and state. He found, for example, that the practical application of experimentation disproved long-held beliefs of the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras on musical interval and pitch between two strings. Pythagoras had held that in the tuning of strings, the weights used to stretch the strings, the tension must be doubled. It turned out that in practice, the tension had to be quadrupled, not doubled, to produce a tone an octave higher. As Whitehouse explains:

“It is hard to underestimate the importance of this moment in Galileo’s life. He and his father had found a new harmony; a new set of mathematical laws that correlated the note produced by a string to its tension, and had done so by experiment. They had not looked up the answer in either an ancient Greek treatise nor sought the advice of some musical authority. This was the start of modern science: They had carried out an experiment and asked a question of nature itself. It was revolutionary. Vincenzo’s actions had unfolded the course of his son’s life in experimental physics.”

Later in life, Galileo would use experimental techniques to show that objects fall towards the Earth at the same rate, regardless of mass. That some objects seem to fall slower is because of air resistance, not a property of the objects themselves. This challenged the Aristotelian principle that claimed that heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones. The most famous of these experiments was done at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, when he released two identically shaped spheres of different masses from the top of the tower. The spheres, one of 100 pounds and the other only one pound, hit the ground at the same time.

Nearly 400 years later, astronaut David Scott of Apollo 15, carried out a similar experiment on the surface of the moon, releasing a feather and a metal hammer. Both struck the lunar surface at the same time. “Galileo was correct,” exclaimed Scott.

This video is called APOLLO 15 Hammer and Feather.

Galileo’s achievements also involve a number of inventions related to other fields of science. He developed the thermoscope, the predecessor of the thermometer, which was the first attempt to measure heat. The Venetian Senate awarded him a patent for a water-lifting machine used in irrigation that only used one horse. A friend in the tool-making trades helped Galileo develop a simple compass that could be used to gauge the distance and height of a target as well as measure the angle of elevation of a cannon’s barrel. While Galileo did not invent the telescope, which was first built in the Netherlands in 1608, he is credited with increasing the magnification by 20 to 30 times using advanced lens-crafting techniques.

His interest in telescopes was sparked in 1604 when a new “star” appeared in the constellation Ophiuchus. This followed an earlier appearance of a new star in 1572 that was studied by the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Such occurrences challenged the long-held notion of both the Aristotelians and the Church that the heavens are perfect and unchanging. Always being one to pursue observations, Galileo sought a way to study the night sky in greater detail.

One of Galileo's early telescopes at the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy

With his telescope, he began to paint the different phases of the moon and its observable dark and light spots. He showed the moon to his patron, the Duke of Tuscany, who was delighted. Galileo then observed the Pleiades star cluster, as well as the planet Jupiter. Through these observations, he discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter – Io, Callisto, Europa and Ganymede, and provided the first evidence of objects orbiting a body other than the Earth. This was the proof Galileo needed to become a fervent advocate of the Copernican model of the cosmos.

A similar realization was made during Galileo’s study of the phases of Venus, repeating in much greater detail observations done by Copernicus. After recording the pattern of sunlight reflected from Venus’ atmosphere, he realized that the only way such patterns could occur is if both Venus and Earth revolved around the Sun. Galileo published a book on his observations, which circulated throughout Europe.

Included in his observations were the recording of sunspots. By aiming the telescope at the Sun and letting the light pass through the telescope onto a white background, Galileo was able to sketch out the positions of sunspots and determine that such imperfections on the Sun both existed and changed with time. Both this observation and the experimental evidence that the Earth is not the center of the universe incurred the wrath of the Church.

Galileo before the Holy Office, painted by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury

Both the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Vatican considered the sun a perfect and unblemished sphere. The stars themselves were seen as divinities, contributing to the growth of astrology. It was argued by church supporters that the observed sunspots must be satellites of the sun and not “imperfections” in its surface. Galileo stated that not only were sunspots on the surface of the sun, they changed their shapes, and both originated and dissolved on that sphere. This could only lead to one conclusion: the sun was not a perfect sphere.

Galileo’s popularity and a newly established science academy in Rome ensured the continued publication of his works and a certain defense against the Church and other professional enemies. However, the issue of sunspots became the spark for an open clerical attack upon Galileo.

The story of how this debate unfolded is but one example of how the church and its privileged office-holders used the Bible to defame scientists like Galileo. Galileo himself believed that nothing that was discovered in any way conflicted with Scripture and quoted an ecclesiastical historian, Cardinal Baronius (1538-1607), who had commented: “The Holy Ghost intended to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” This clever riposte did not save him. As Whitehouse points out:

“In his innate conservatism, Cardinal Bellarmine saw the Copernican universe as threatening to the social order. To him and to much of the Church’s upper echelon, the science of the matter was beyond their understanding — and in many cases their interest. They cared more for the administration and the preservation of Papal power than they did for getting astronomical facts right.”

In the end, Galileo was told by Bellarmine and the head of the Inquisition, Cardinal Agostino Oreggi, that Copernicus’ views were wrong and he was not to support them. Furthermore, he was ordered not to teach or defend Copernican theory in any way, either in his writings or verbally.

After Bellarmine and Pope Paul V died, Galileo still harbored great hopes that the new Pope, Urban VIII, his former friend Maffeo Barberini, would prove when elected to be much better than his predecessors. This was an illusion. He was summoned before an even more hostile Inquisition than the first time.

While Whitehouse speculates that for Barberini, being Pope “had gone to his head,” the more fundamental truth is, as he observed earlier, that the Church hierarchy as a whole viewed “the Copernican universe as threatening to the social order.” The Pope, no matter his individual origins, was bound by his place in medieval society to defend the status quo.

The reproductions in Whitehouse’s book of paintings and illustrations depicting book burnings, the burnings at the stake for heresy, and the humiliations endured by thousands at the hands of the Inquisition reinforce this point.

Renaissance Genius depicts how Galileo’s defense of the Copernican system and the subsequent discoveries by Kepler, Rene Descartes, and Isaac Newton not only established the beginnings of physics, but also led to the advances for science that have resulted in the modern space program, including the space probe named after Galileo and the Hubble space telescope, the most extraordinary advance in the technology which Galileo pioneered.

Whitehouse sums up the Galilean revolution by providing us with a very human portrait of the man, the history of his times and Galileo’s indispensable role in the advancement and popularization of science for humankind.

Racist superstitious Italian politician kills protected snake


This 2013 video is called Italian Jewish groups slam Italian politician over racist slurs aimed at African-Italian minister.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Italy’s Deputy Senate Speaker who compared country’s first black minister to an ‘orang-utan’ claims he is ‘cursed’ by African spirits after spell of bad luck

The senior politician who caused outrage by comparing Italy’s first black minister to an orang-utan, now claims he is under siege from vengeful African spirits.

Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli invited national and international opprobrium last summer when he said the then Integration Minister, Congolese-born Cécile Kyenge, resembled an ape. He issued only a mealy-mouthed apology, however, and has refused to resign.

Roberto Calderoli is a member of the racist party Lega Nord (Northern League); allies of Marine Le Pen‘s National Front in France and Geert Wilders‘ PVV party in the Netherlands.

In November, he took legal advice when it became clear he was to stand trial in Brescia, charged with defamation aggravated by racial discrimination. The trial is ongoing.

But today it has emerged that he is also taking mystical advice, after claiming video evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo shows that Ms Kyenge’s father, a tribal leader, has put a “macumba” – an African curse – on him as punishment for the insult.

After a series of misfortunes since the “orang-utan” comment – six surgical interventions (two live-saving), the death of his mother, fractured bones and, just last week, the discovery of a 6ft snake in the kitchen of his house in Bergamo, northern Italy – Mr Calderoli is in no doubt about the magical nature of the threat, and has consulted a mystic.

He said that after the video emerged and he suffered the series of health scares, two friends gave him a lucky charm supposed to possess mystical healing properties. “Two days later, it broke in two by itself,” said Mr Calderoli. “A wizard

Maybe the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?

has told me that there are terrible forces acting against me.” …

Now, in addition to battling ill health, anti-racism campaigners, the courts and tribal relations, Mr Calderoli is facing demands from animal rights activists that he be prosecuted for killing the snake, which they say was a non-venomous, protected species.

Following Mr Calderoli’s comments against Ms Kyenge, racist protesters threw bananas at her during a public appearance. Ms Kyenge had been calling for legislation to automatically grant citizenship to the children of legal immigrants who are born in Italy.

Wall lizard on Texel island


This is a wall lizard video from Italy.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Lizard discovered on Texel – 26-08-14

There are no lizards on Texel. So, Texel man Hans van Garderen looked surprised when he found one in his home in Den Burg town. The animal was missing part of his tail, but looked healthy overall. He sent pictures of his special discovery to Ecomare biologist Pierre Bonnet. To find out which type it was precisely, Bonnet asked experts in the field of reptiles. According to RAVON staff member Annemarie van Diepenbeek it’s probably a young wall lizard.

Stony environment

Wall lizards are found in rocky environments in France and neighboring countries in southern Europe. In the Netherlands this species lives in one place, in Maastricht. Texel is not a suitable habitat for a wall lizard. They love a stony environment and not all that sand! Sand lizards do live on Terschelling and Vlieland, and on Terschelling, also the viviparous lizard. These species would also be able to live on Texel, but then you would expect them in the dunes, not in a house in Den Burg!

Alone or more of them

To find out whether this is a lone adventurer or whether there might be a population living on the island, Pierre advised Hans to also look in the garden. Among the stones he turned were there plenty of smooth newts, but no lizards. How the wall lizard came to Den Burg is unknown. It was probably taken along by people accidentally. Maybe it hitched a ride from a French campsite.

Two new moth species discovered in the Netherlands


This is an Aedia leucomelas video from Italy.

The Dutch Butterfly Foundation reports today discoveries of two moth species, new for the Netherlands.

One of these is Aedia leucomelas. An individual of this species was found in 1987 near Urmond village, and landed in a butterfly and moth collection. Only now researcher Rob de Vos discovered that moth was this south European and Asian species, which had never been recorded in the Netherlands before.

On 20 July this year, in Friesland province, there was nightly moth research. Over 110 macro moth species were counted. Among them was an Eucarta virgo. This east European and Asian species was new for the Netherlands as well.

New Italian football boss accused of racism and sexism


This video says about itself:

Controversial Carlo Tavecchio Wins Election

12 August 2014

Carlo Tavecchio has been elected the president of Italy’s football federation, less than a month after making a racist remark about African players.

After a self-styled fascist as Italian football boss in Sunderland in England, now a somewhat similar case from Italy itself.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Football: Italy elect racist to lead governing body

Tuesday 12th August 2014

Carlo Tavecchio appointed Italian Football Federation president

Carlo Tavecchio, the candidate at the centre of a racism controversy, has been elected as the new president of the Italian Football Federation.

The 71-year-old beat former AC Milan player Demetrio Albertini after three rounds of voting in Rome, the governing body announced through its official Twitter account yesterday afternoon.

Tavecchio drew heavy criticism last month for making an allegedly racist comment about “eating bananas” during an address to a summer assembly of Italy’s amateur leagues and was also accused of sexism in an interview back in 2009.

But despite the fact Serie A clubs including Fiorentina and Sampdoria withdrew their backing in the weeks leading up to the elective assembly, Tavecchio was confirmed as Giancarlo Abete’s successor at the FIGC when polling 63.33 per cent of the third-round votes after the first two rounds proved inconclusive.

He polled 60.20 per cent to Albertini’s 35.46 per cent in the first round, which had required a quorum of 75 per cent, and had 63.18 per cent of the votes to his opponent’s 34.07 per cent in a second round requiring a quorum of 66 per cent.

The delegation was comprised of 278 representatives from Serie A, Serie B, the Lega Pro, the Amateur League, the Players’ Association, the Coaches’ Association and the Referees’ Association.

The Lega Pro, which represents 60 third and fourth division teams, last week said nearly all of its members would back Tavecchio, who had been vice-president of the FIGC since 2009.

The campaign against his candidacy began when he made an allegedly racist comment when using a fictional example to try to make a point about the number of foreign players in the Italian leagues.

Quoted in La Repubblica, Tavecchio said: “England identifies the players coming in and, if they are professional, they are allowed to play.

“Here, on the other hand, let’s say there’s (fictional player) Opti Poba, who has come here, who previously was eating bananas and now is a first-team player for Lazio.

“In England he has to demonstrate his CV and his pedigree.”

He subsequently apologised but Fifa has since asked the FIGC to conduct an investigation into the comments and to report its findings back to the world governing body.

He has a string of criminal convictions to his name and was recently at the centre of a racism and sexism storm in Italy, but – quite remarkably – Carlo Tavecchio is the new president of the FIGC: here.

See also here.

ITALIAN football prosecutors won’t take any action against new federation president Carlo Tavecchio over allegedly racist comments he made: here.

African penguin language, new research, videos


This video is called African Penguins go for a swim – Mountain of the Sea – BBC.

From Salon.com:

Thursday, July 31, 2014 05:12 PM +0200

How to talk to African penguins, in 6 simple videos

Researchers identified distinct calls used to express loneliness, anger, hunger and ecstasy

Lindsay Abrams

After 104 days of careful observation, researchers at the University of Turin, in Italy, think they’ve finally figured out what African penguins are “talking” about. Based on the sounds and behaviors of a colony of 48 captive penguins at the Zoom Torino zoo, the team identified six distinct vocalizations used by adults and juveniles to express just about everything that needs saying: from loneliness, to anger, to mutually experienced ecstasy.

“Vocal communication allows us to understand the many different aspects of the biology of this species,” lead author Livio Favaro explained to the Guardian. “Penguins have less sophisticated vocal mechanisms compared to song birds, but they have very sophisticated mechanisms to encode information in songs.”

The findings, written up in the journal PLOS ONE, are accompanied by a set of videos illustrating the calls. Watch them a few times, and you, too, can become fluent in the endangered species‘ language.

Contact calls are emitted by individual penguins when out of sight from their colony or partner:

The agonistic call is often emitted during fights or as a warning for other penguins to stay away. The birds stand up and stretch their necks out toward the target of their aggression:

In the ecstatic display song, the longest and loudest of African penguin calls, the birds spread their feet, stretch their neck and face upward and hold their wings out horizontally to advertise their availability to potential mates. It kind of sounds like a donkey, the researchers note, which is how the African penguin earned the nickname “jackass”:

The mutual ecstatic song is sung when mates finally get together. Partners, the researchers observed, “often emitted this call simultaneously, overlapping in a duet” — and are known to make the sound when others attempt to intrude on their twosome:

Begging moans, a newly described call, are only emitted by juveniles, and only until they’re either fed, or their parents go away:

The youngest of penguins, those under 3 months old, will emit long series of these high-pitched begging peeps for minutes on end until their parents regurgitate some food for them:

All penguin species are continuing to be at risk from habitat degradation and loss a new study finds: here.