The story of Galileo’s trial in 1633 intertwines two crucial earlier episodes:
1. Galileo’s encounter with the Inquisition in 1616; and
2. Publication of Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World in 1632.
Learn more about them in this learning leaflet.
Can you identify simple musical intervals?
The ancient Pythagoreans envisioned the heavens as a musical scale, comprised of celestial spheres rotating according to harmonious music. For Robert Fludd, a seventeenth-century physician, the universe was a monochord, its physical structure unintelligible without an understanding of music. In this activity, explore the relationship between mathematics, astronomy, and music.
A children’s book, The Story of How the Constellation ‘Hoot the Owl’ Began, was written and Illustrated by Anna Todd (2017), a 2nd grade student at Rose Witcher Elementary School, El Reno Public Schools, located in El Reno, Oklahoma. The book developed in collaboration with Stacey Stephenson and was inspired by the Galileo's World exhibition (backstory).
Why do we have no eyewitness reports refuting Aristotle's physics?
Galileo's "Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World" includes a discussion about dropping balls from the mast of both a moving ship and a ship at rest in order to test the theory of inertia. If sailors actually had performed the experiment, believing with Aristotle that a cannonball dropped from the mast would fall harmlessly into the wake of the ship, why were no reports made to the contrary? This OER features a cartoon answering that question.
Vincenzo Galilei was among the first music theorists to advocate for a new system of tuning based on performance, instead of the mathematical principles of music set fourth by Pythagoras. Pythagorean music theory bases pitch on the mathematical proportions of dividing a string. Vincenzo's primary problem with this system is that, although it is great for the mathematician and the music theorist, it is impractical for the performer. All music based on this particular system of tuning would inevitably sound out of tune and unpleasant. In this learning leaflet learn about the tuning systems in the late-Renaissance period.
How does the Sextant symbolize the person who worked on the famed Hevelius star catalog and star atlas throughout its production, from observation to publication?
Elisabeth Hevelius, wife of Johann Hevelius, was an astronomer in her own right. They worked together in the observatory of their Gdansk home to measure angular widths and distances with a great sextant, which required two observers at a time. The Sextant was among the new constellations they proposed in Uranographia (1690), the most detailed and influential celestial atlas of the 17th century. The Uranographia contains 54 beautiful double page engraved plates of 73 constellations, and 2 oversized folding plates of planispheres.
William Schickard, a friend of Kepler’s, designed this “astroscopium,” a model intermediate between a planisphere and a celestial globe, to calculate the positions of the stars for any day and hour of the year. Use this learning leaflet to construct your own astroscopium.
Plate #1 - DOWNLOAD Hemisphere #1
Plate #2 - DOWNLOAD Hemisphere #2
What were women doing in the museum?
Levinus Vincent, a wealthy Dutch merchant with ties to the East Indies, created a spectacular 'Chamber of Wonders' natural history museum in Haarlem. Visiting dignitaries admired his museum, including Peter the Great and King Charles III of Spain. The detailed depictions of interior spaces include figures of women engaged in a variety of activities. Museums such as Vincent's offered women opportunities for participation in the natural sciences as donors, collectors, discoverers, visitors, patrons, lecturers and curators. This OER explores the significance of women in these early museums.
Giambattista della Porta was one of the most widely known European Renaissance magicians. In 1558, at the age of twenty three, the first edition of his book Natural Magic was printed. Due to its popularity and Della Porta's increased fame, he published an expanded second edition in 1589, increasing the original four books to twenty books. Learn more in this learning leaflet.
Why were experimental variables (like tilt) so important?
Galileo described his experiment with an inclined plane in Two New Sciences. In this work, Galileo furthered a research tradition in physics known as "impetus." This tradition, begun in the 6th century CE with John Philoponos, sought to explain motion. A body falling straight down accelerates too fast to be measured, so Galileo constructed his inclined plane in order to study it in slow motion. Galileo's inclined plane provided experimental confirmation of the law of free fall.