Thursday, July 22, 2010

Galileo, again

A re-posting, of sorts--I blogged about this last year, but now the exhibit has started. Florence's History of Science Museum (now named, appropriately enough, the Galileo Museum) is giving us the finger. Several, in fact. And a tooth.

When overseas 2 years ago, one thing that fascinated me was the varied reactions to the icons of saints in the various churches. The finger of this saint, the skull of this one, the whole body of this one... a pebble from the place where the loaves and fishes miracle occurred... Some visitors rolled their eyes to all, some were in obvious ecstasy about all, and many drew their own personal lines as to which were worthy of veneration and which were just plain silly.

The exhibit at the Galileo Museum is both-- amazing and silly.

Galileo's middle finger. Appropriately.

The mystery no longer lingers:
Found, at last, two missing fingers.
They both belonged, as did one tooth,
To Galileo. That’s the truth.

The heretic had made a fuss
Supporting old Copernicus;
The Earth, he said, each year will run
An orbit 'round our yellow sun;

A statement, in The Church’s sight,
That could not possibly be right--
So Galileo swore he lied,
And nine years later, up and died.

Nine decades later, scientists
With strange things on their “must do” lists
Removed some fingers, teeth, and bones,
Then laid him back beneath the stones.

For years, his parts, though very old,
Were bartered, traded, bought and sold,
Until, in nineteen-hundred five,
Expected parts did not arrive.

The trading, then, went underground—
Until this year. Now, they’ve been found!
Today, his fans may go and see ‘em
At Florence’s History of Science Museum.

(all I had to change was one word!)

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