Legends are sometimes identified in basketball by the singular first name: LeBron, Kobe, Jordan. The same is true of entertainers: Madonna, Cher and Beyoncé. But almost all the collections of scientific legends contain surnames, rarely even Isaac or Albert or Charles. Only one of the titans of contemporary scientific history is commonly referred to simply by a first name: Galileo.
The guy’s last name: Galilei. Yet less people know his surname than they do know that he was one of the fathers of scientific science. Galileo merged algebra with natural science and scientific theoretical methods to provide a framework for explaining nature in terms of nature, rather than those of Aristotle.
Galileo, The greatest
Living with Galileo was in documents. Vincenzo Viviani, published in 1717 (but wrote before Thomas Salusbury’s English language Galileo biography in 1664), has written hundreds in biographies on him from the very first. As recently as 2010 two new medical biographies (by David Wootton and John Heilbron) examined the history and science of Galileo in great detail.
Yet there is still a justification for making yet another interpretation of the lives of legends. Astrophysicist Mario Livio has revived the authorization in Galileo and the Science Deniers to tell Galileo’s tale once again, this time with a specific concern about Galileo’s importance to science today (and the impediments to its acceptance). “In a world with bureaucratic anti-science views and scientific deniers in crucial places,” writes Livio, “Galileo ‘s tale serves … as a potent reminder of the importance of critical thinking.”
Livio also set out to create a biography that would be more accessible than the usual academic tomes for a general reader. And he did excel. His observations contrasting the time of Galileo. With that of today are into an engagingly writing and happily legible narrative.
According to Livio. Today’s deniers of climate change science or the truth of evolutionary theory are equivalent to Galileo’s scientific views’ religious enemies. Particularly his emphasis on the Earth’s motion around the sun. In the end. The book is not as much a concise biography as a description of the scientist’s life and science. With a clear account of the events leading up in his successful court. Livio plays the role of a highly competent legal expert in discussing the problems posed during the trial. Including criticism by the defense of the dubious methods and the not always successful defence of the greatest man.