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Galileo Galilei - Words of Wisdom

Quotations By and About Galileo Galilei


Galileo Galilei Quotations

Galileo Galilei

Public Domain
"I would say here something that was heard from an ecclesiastic of the most eminent degree; ‘That the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how the heaven goes.’"

"And yet ... it moves." Allegedly said by Galileo after signing a recantation of the Copernican theory that the sun was the center of the solar system, and accepting the church’s claim that the Earth was unmoving.

"Philosophy is written in this grand book—I mean the universe—which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it."

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself."

"In my opinion nothing occurs contrary to nature except the impossible, and that never occurs."

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

Quotes About Galileo

"Galileo, with an opera glass, discovered a more splendid series of celestial phenomena than anyone since."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
"Is it possible that I am not alone in believing that in the dispute between Galileo and the Church, the Church was right and the centre of man’s universe is the earth?
    Stephen Vizinczey (b. 1933)
"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth. A Galileo could no more be elected President of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the bitter facts of life in bandages of soft illusion."
    H.L. (Henry Lewis) Mencken (1880–1956)
"If I have seen further [than certain other men] it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."
    Isaac Newton (1642–1727), Speaking of his dependency on Galileo’s and Kepler’s previous work in physics and astronomy.
"Awareness of the stars and their light pervades the Koran, which reflects the brightness of the heavenly bodies in many verses. The blossoming of mathematics and astronomy was a natural consequence of this awareness. Understanding the cosmos and the movements of the stars means understanding the marvels created by Allah. There would be no persecuted Galileo in Islam, because Islam, unlike Christianity, did not force people to believe in a ‘fixed’ heaven."
    Fatima Mernissi
"A law explains a set of observations; a theory explains a set of laws. The quintessential illustration of this jump in level is the way in which Newton’s theory of mechanics explained Kepler’s law of planetary motion. Basically, a law applies to observed phenomena in one domain (e.g., planetary bodies and their movements), while a theory is intended to unify phenomena in many domains. Thus, Newton’s theory of mechanics explained not only Kepler’s laws, but also Galileo’s findings about the motion of balls rolling down an inclined plane, as well as the pattern of oceanic tides. Unlike laws, theories often postulate unobservable objects as part of their explanatory mechanism. So, for instance, Freud’s theory of mind relies upon the unobservable ego, superego, and id, and in modern physics we have theories of elementary particles that postulate various types of quarks, all of which have yet to be observed."
    John L. Casti
"The anecdotes of modern astronomy affect me in the same way as do those faint revelations of the Real which are vouchsafed to men from time to time, or rather from eternity to eternity. When I remember the history of that faint light in our firmament which we call Venus, which ancient men regarded, and which most modern men still regard, as a bright spark attached to a hollow sphere revolving about our earth, but which we have discovered to be another world, in itself,—how Copernicus, reasoning long and patiently about the matter, predicted confidently concerning it, before yet the telescope had been invented,... and that within a century after his death the telescope was invented, and that prediction verified, by Galileo,—I am not without hope that we may, even here and now, obtain some accurate information concerning that OTHER WORLD which the instinct of mankind has so long predicted."
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

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