Gallery 7. The Galileo Affair

Book lists index

The Galileo Affair

Location: Bizzell Memorial Library, 5th floor Exhibit Hall.
Introductory video

What went wrong? Does the Galileo affair represent an inevitable conflict between science and religion?

Sometimes in harmony, sometimes in conflict, science and religion interact in diverse and historically contingent ways. The Galileo Affair turns out to be more complicated than a simple conflict of science and religion. It stands as a paradigmatic example of a controversy where novel methodologies challenge established disciplines within an authoritarian social and political context. In a tumultuous time, Galileo challenged the established and reputable domains of physics and theology, both of which underestimated the knowledge claims of the new mathematical science.

“If, against the most manifest and reliable testimony of reason, anything be set up claiming to have the authority of Holy Scriptures, he who does this does it through a misapprehension of what he has read and is setting up against the truth not the real meaning of Scripture, which he has failed to discover, but an opinion of his own; he alleges not what he has found in the Scriptures, but what he has found in himself as their interpreter.” Galileo, Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (quoting Augustine; 1615), trans. Maurice Finocchiaro

Section 1: The Bible and Science

The religious and political conflicts of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation evoked passionate and widespread controversies over the meaning of the Bible. Would new discoveries in science throw additional fuel on these fires? Both Catholic and Protestant traditions accepted, in principle, the idea that Scripture passages are accommodated to ordinary human understanding. Practical application of this principle, however, was complicated by longstanding traditions of interpretation. Natural philosophers might face mortal hazards when writing about theological topics. Yet in other cases, scriptural passages also prompted, motivated, shaped and helped legitimize scientific inquiry.

1. Augustine, De civitate Dei (Venice, 1489), “The City of God”
2. Ethiopian Bible (date unknown)
3. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae (Nuremberg, 1496), “Heights of Theology”
4. Geneva Bible (1560)
5. King James Bible (London, 1611), 1st ed., “He” issue
6. Michael Servetus, De Trinitatis Erroribus (ca. 1700), ms., “On the Errors of the Trinity”
7. Giordano Bruno, Le Ciel Reformé (Paris, 1750), “The Reformed Heaven”
8. Giordano Bruno, De progressu et lampade venatoria logicorum (Wittenberg, 1587), “Progress and the Hunter’s Lamp of Logical Methods”
9. Diego de Zuniga, In Iob commentaria (Rome, 1591), 2d. ed., “Commentary on the Book of Job”
10. Marin Mersenne, Quaestiones Celeberrimae in Genesim (Paris, 1623), “Celebrated Questions on the Book of Genesis”
11. John Milton, Paradise Lost (London, 1674), 2d ed.
12. Thomas Burnet, Theory of the Earth (London, 1684), bk 1, bk 2
13. Johann Jakob Scheuchzer, Geestelyke natuurkunde (Amsterdam, 1728), 6 vols., “Biblical Sciences”
14. Gerard Hoet, Figures de la Bible (The Hague, 1728), “Illustrations of the Bible”
15. Isaac Newton, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (London, 1728)
16. Isaac Newton, Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel (London, 1733)

Section 2: Galileo and the Church

In the Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, Galileo argued that the purpose of Scripture is to tell us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go; Scripture never errs, but its interpreters do err; and read rightly, Scripture and science will never conflict (there is a unity of truth). That which is obscure (figurative language) should be explained by that which is clear (mathematical demonstrations). Nevertheless, Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World overstepped the expected boundaries for a mathematician by arguing that Copernicanism was physically true and certain rather than merely hypothetical, and Galileo was called to trial in 1633.

17. Galileo, Nov-antiqua sanctissimorum patrum (Strassburg, 1636), “The Ancient and Modern Doctrines of the Holy Fathers” (Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, first printed ed.)
18. Galileo, “The Ancient and Modern Doctrine of Holy Fathers,” in Mathematical Collections (London, 1661), ed. Thomas Salisbury (Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, first English trans.)
19. Galileo, Lettera Madama Cristina di Lorena (Milan, 1967), “Letter to Madame Christina of Lorraine” (Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina)
20. Johann Kepler, “An Abstract of the Learned Treatise… the Introduction upon Mars,” in Mathematical Discourses (London, 1661), ed. Thomas Salusbury, copy 2.
21. Tommaso Campanella, Apologia pro Galileo (Frankfurt, 1622), “Defense of Galileo”
22. Paolo Foscarini, “Epistola circa Pythagoricorum, & Copernici opinionem de mobilitate terrae, et stabilitate solis,” in Galileo, Systema cosmicum (Avignon, 1635), 465-495; “Letter on the Pythagorean and Copernican Opinion on the Motion of the Earth and Stability of the Sun”
23. Galileo, Dialogo sopra i Due Massimi Sistemi del Mondo (Florence, 1632), “Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World”
24. Church of Santa Croce, Florence (photograph)
25. Vincenzo Viviani, De locis solidis secunda divinatio geometrica (Florence, 1701), ”A Geometrical Reconstruction of On Conic Sections by Aristaeus”

Further reading:
  • Stillman Drake, Galileo: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001; originally printed 1983 in the Past Masters series), discussion guide.
  • Ron Numbers, ed., Galileo Goes to Jail and other Myths about Science and Religion (Harvard University Press, 2009)
  • Anthony Fantoli, Galileo: For Copernicanism and for the Church, 3d ed. (Chicago, 2003)
  • Maurice Finocchiaro, The Galileo Affair (Berkeley, 1989)
Curator: Kerry Magruder. Links are to the exhibit website, For more information, download the comprehensive, free Exhibit Guide from the iBook Store. Open Educational Resources are available at and ShareOK.
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Gallery 6. The New Physics

Book lists index

The New Physics

Location: Bizzell Memorial Library, 5th floor Exhibit Hall.
Introductory video

How did Galileo create a mathematical physics?

In 1638, Galileo published his masterwork of physics, Discourse on Two New Sciences. The two sciences were tensile strength and mechanics, the study of machines in motion. Instead of basing physics on logic and qualitative principles, Galileo exemplified a new experimental and mathematical approach to physics. With Newton’s mathematical physics the following generation, this approach would transform understanding of motion and even of the universe itself.

“Philosophy (i.e., physics) is written in that great book which ever lies before our eyes — I mean the universe — but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols, in which it is written. This book is written in the mathematical language, and the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a single word of it; without which one wanders in vain through a dark labyrinth.” Galileo Galilei, Il Saggiatore (The Assayer, 1623)

Section 1: Machines in Motion

Scientist-engineers of the 16th century debated the theoretical principles of machines in motion. Ancient sources included a treatise on mechanics attributed to Aristotle; the mathematical methods of Archimedes; and Hero of Alexandria’s analysis of five simple machines: the lever, pulley, wheel, wedge and screw. The design of large-scale, complex machines drew attention to weaknesses in existing theoretical frameworks which Galileo resolved in his new science of motion.

1. Euclid, Preclarissimus liber elementorum (Venice, 1482), “Elements of Geometry”
2. Nasir ad-Din al-Tusi, Kitab tahrir usul l-Uqlidus (Rome, 1594), “Euclid’s Elements of Geometry
3. Niccolo Tartaglia, Euclide (Venice, 1543), “Euclide”
4. Christoph Clavius, Euclidis elementorum (Rome, 1589), 2 vols, “Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, 2 vols., 1 and 2
5. Bernardino Baldi, In mechanica Aristotelis problema exercitationes (Mainz, 1621), “Problems and Exercises in Aristotle’s Mechanics”
6. Archimedes, Opera (1543), “Works”
7. Apollonius, Conicorum (Oxford, 1710), “On Conic Sections”
8. Bonaventura Cavalieri, Lo Specchio Ustorio (Bologna, 1632), “The Burning Mirror”
9. John Philoponos, In posteriora resolutoria Aristotelis Comentaria (Venice, 1504), “Commentary on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics”
10. Simon Stevin, Les Oeuvres Mathematiques (Leiden, 1634), “Mathematical Works”
11. Luca Valerio, De centro gravitatis solidorum (Bologna, 1661), “On the Center of Gravity of Solids”
12. Guidobaldo del Monte, Perspectivae (Pesaro, 1600), “On Perspective”
13. Guidobaldo del Monte, Mechanicorum (Pisa, 1577), “On Mechanics”
14. Marin Mersenne, Les Mechaniques du Sieur Galilée (Paris, 1634), “Galileo, Mechanics”
15. Galileo, Mathematical Discourses (London, 1730), trans. Thomas Weston
16. Inclined plane, crafted by Ron Mitchell (University of Oklahoma Libraries, 2015).
17. Nobutoyo, Yahon Hiden, “Book of the Arrow” (ca. 1846). Manuscript copy by Hajime Terai from 1556 original written by Nobutoyo, illustrations copied by Odani
18. Nobutoyo, Koto no sho, “Book of Leggings” (ca. 1846). Manuscript copy by Hajime Terai from 1556 original written by Nobutoyo, illustrations copied by Odani
19. Ise, Heizo Sadatake, Kasakake zenki, “Secret Book of Hunger for the Target” (ca. 1846). Manuscript copy by Hajime Terai from original written in 1758 by Ise; illustrations copied by Odani
20. Ise, Heizo Sadatake, Fuku (no) Sho, “Secret Book of the Quiver” (ca. 1846). Manuscript copy by Hajime Terai from original written in 1765 by Ise; illustrations copied by Odani.
21. Paul E. Klopsteg Collection of the History and Technology of Archery, miscellaneous items.

Section 2: The Universe

Galileo was one of a generation of mathematicians who believed they understood physics better than the physicists. Physicists, then trained in logical methods, understood neither the theoretical basis of mechanics nor the tradition of mathematical astronomy which they regarded as hypothetical and uncertain. A generation after Galileo, the new mathematical approach to physics triumphed in Newton’s Principia, or Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, which unified physics with the mathematical study of the universe.

22. Plato, Diuus Plato (Venice, 1491), ed. Marsilio Ficino, “The Divine Plato”
23. Aristotle, Opera Graece (Venice,1495-1498), 5 vols. bound in 6, “Works in Greek” (vol. 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5)
24. Aristarchus, De magnitudinibus et distantiis solis, et lunae (Pesaro, 1572), “On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon”
25. Proclus, Sphaera (Vienna, 1511), “On the Sphere”
26. Al-Qabisi, Alchabitius cum commento (Venice, 1512), “Commentary on Al-Qabisi”
27. Abraham bar Hiyya, Sphaera mundi (Basel, 1546), “On the Sphere of the Universe”
28. Sacrobosco, De Sphaera (Venice, 1490), “On the Sphere”; with Georg Peurbach, Theoricae novae planetarum, “New Theory of the Planets”
29. Sacrobosco, De sphaera (Wittenberg, 1545), “On the Sphere”
30. Francesco Barozzi, Cosmographia (Venice, 1585), “Cosmography”
31. William Gilbert, De magnete (London, 1600), “On the Magnet”
32. René Descartes, Principia philosophiae (Amsterdam, 1644), “Principles of Philosophy”
33. Fontenelle, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (London, 1728)
34. Isaac Newton, Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica (London, 1687), “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”
35. Francesco Algarotti, Il Newtonianismo per le dame (Naples, 1737), “Newtonianism for Women”
36. James Bradley, “An Account of a New Discovered Motion of the Fix’d Stars,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (London, 1729), no. 406, pp. 637-660
37. Wilhelm Bessel, “De motu proprio stellarum fixarum” (1827); reprinted in Abhandlungen von Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (Leipzig, 1875), “On the Proper Motion of Fixed Stars”
38. Léon Foucault, “Démonstration Physique du Mouvement de la Rotation de la Terre,” Comptes Rendus (Paris, 1851), pp. 135ff, “Physical Demonstration of the Rotational Movement of the Earth”
39. Albert Einstein: The Centenary of General Relativity, 1915-2015, miscellaneous items

Further reading:
  • Galileo, Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems, trans. Stillman Drake (Modern Library, 2001).
  • John L. Heilbronn, Galileo (Oxford, 2010).
  • Stillman Drake, Galileo at Work: His Scientific Biography (Chicago, 1978).
Curator: Kerry Magruder. Links are to the exhibit website, For more information, download the comprehensive, free Exhibit Guide from the iBook Store. Open Educational Resources are available at and ShareOK.
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Gallery 5. Controversy over the Comets

Book lists index

Controversy over the Comets

Location: Bizzell Memorial Library, 5th floor Exhibit Hall.
Introductory video

What does it mean to say that mathematics is the language of nature?

Galileo’s controversy over the comets illustrates how difficult it may be to implement novel research methods in science.

Galileo asserted that mathematics is the language of nature. He challenged the established discipline of natural philosophy, or physics, which relied upon non-mathematical methods. Physicists were not trained in mathematics, any more than theologians. Practitioners of both physics and theology regarded mathematics as unable to reach true conclusions about the physical world.

Paradoxically, Galileo’s polemics about mathematics as the language of nature occurred in the midst of controversies with fellow mathematicians. Even for mathematicians, mathematical methods alone proved unable to resolve the enigmas they faced.

Section 1: Systems of the World

Early modern astronomers experimented with geometrically equivalent cosmic systems, debating diverse systems of the world. Given that the competing systems produced identical planetary predictions, astronomers searched for other kinds of observations that might decide between them. Comets seemed to cross through multiple spheres. The spheres of Mars and the Sun seemed likely to intersect. Several systems predicted that Venus might show phases. The Copernican system predicted “stellar parallax,” that stars should appear to slightly shift in position, which was not observed. Definitive evidence that could decide the true system of the world proved elusive.

1. Athanasius Kircher, Iter exstaticum (Würzburg, 1660), “Ecstatic Journey through the Heavens”
2. Valentin Naibod, Astronomicarum institutionum (Venice, 1580), “Principles of Astronomy”
3. Christoph Clavius, In sphaeram Ionnis de Sacro Bosco commentarius (Rome, 1570), “Commentary on the Sphere of Sacrobosco”
4. “Galileo shows the satellites of Jupiter to the Venetian Senators,” from Louis Figuier, Vies des Savants Illustres (Paris, 1870)
5-10. Tycho Brahe, portrait (5), framed prints: Copenhagen (6); Hven (7); Gardens (8); Uraniborg (9); architectural plan (10).
11. Tycho Brahe, Astronomiae instauratae mechanica (Nuremberg, 1602), ”Instruments for the Restoration of Astronomy”
12. Tycho Brahe, Epistolarum astronomicarum (Uraniborg, 1596), ”Astronomical Letters”
13. Tycho Brahe, Opera omnia (Frankfurt, 1648), “Complete Works”
14. Simon Mayr, Mundus Iovialis (Nuremberg, 1614), “The World of Jupiter”
15. Giuseppe Biancani, Sphaera mundi (Bologne, 1620), “Sphere of the Universe”
16. Nicolaus Reimarus Ursus, Fundamentum astronomicum (Strassburg, 1588), “Astronomical Foundation”
17. David Origanus, Novae motuum coelestium ephemerides Brandenburgicae (Frankfurt on the Oder, 1609).
18. Giambattista Riccioli, Almagestum novum (Bologna, 1651), Part 2, “The New Almagest” (Part 1)
19. Gabriele Beati, Sphaera triplex (Rome, 1662), “The Three Spheres”
20. Nicolas Bion, L’Usage des Globes Caeleste et Terrestre, et des Sphaeres, suivant les diffaerens Systaemes du Monde (Paris, 1710), “The Use of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes, and Spheres, according to the different Systems of the World”

Section 2: Comets

Since antiquity, comets posed an enigma. They appear without warning. They do not stay within the Zodiac like the planets. They come from different directions. Their speed and brightness change radically. Their tails always point away from the Sun. Parallax was observed for the Moon but not for comets. This implied that comets are farther away than the Moon, contrary to Aristotle’s argument that comets are fiery vapors in the upper atmosphere.

21. Abbildung und Beschreibung deß wunderwürdigen unvergleichlichen Cometen (Nuremberg, 1680), broadsheet; “Illustration and Description of the Incomparably Great Comet”
22. Johann Hevelius, Cometographia (Gdansk, 1668), “On Comets”
23. Johann Hevelius, Annus climactericus (Gdansk, 1685), “The Climactic Year”

Section 3: Controversy

While mathematicians resisted the attempts of physicists and theologians to discount their conclusions, even mathematical methods alone were not able to resolve the enigmas of comets, parallax, and diverse systems of the world. Galileo engaged in polemics against the system of Tycho Brahe that went beyond the evidence available at the time.

24. Oratio Grassi, De tribus cometis anni MDCXVIII (Rome, 1619), “On the Three Comets of 1618”
25. Johann Kepler, De cometis qui annis 1607 & 1618 (Augsburg, 1619), “On the Comets of the years 1607 & 1618”
26. John Bainbridge, An astronomicall description of the late Comet (London, 1619)
27. Galileo (Mario Guiducci), Discorso delle Comete (Florence, 1619), “Discourse on the Comets”
28. Oratio Grassi, Libra astronomica (Perugia, 1619), “The Astronomical Balance”
29. Giovanni Battista Stelluti, Scandaglio sopra La Libra Astronomica (Terni, 1622), “A Probing of the Astronomical Balance”
30. Galileo, Il Saggiatore (Rome, 1623), 1st ed., early state, “The Assayer”
31. Galileo, Il Saggiatore (Rome, 1623), 1st ed., later state, “The Assayer”
32. Oratio Grassi, Tractatus de sphaera (Rome, 1623), ms., “Treatise on the Sphere”
33. Johann Kepler, Tychonis Brahei dani Hyperaspistes (Frankfurt, 1625), “The Shield-Bearer for Tycho Brahe”
34. Oratio Grassi, Ratio ponderum librae et simbellae (Naples, 1627), ”A Comparison of the Weights for The Astronomical Balance and the Small Scale”

Further reading:
  • Christopher M. Graney, Setting Aside All Authority: Giovanni Battista Riccioli and the Science Against Copernicus in the Age of Galileo (Notre Dame, 2015).
  • Stillman Drake, ed. and trans., The Controversy on the Comets of 1618.
Curator: Kerry Magruder. Links are to the exhibit website, For more information, download the comprehensive, free Exhibit Guide from the iBook Store. Open Educational Resources are available at and ShareOK.
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Gallery 4. Galileo and China

Book lists index

Galileo and China

Location: Bizzell Memorial Library, 5th floor Exhibit Hall.
Introductory video

How did European and Chinese astronomers collaborate in the world of Galileo?

The Silk Road. The Forbidden City. The Great Wall. Asia has long held a fascination for Europeans. Science then and now plays a key role in cultural exchange. Schreck, one of Galileo’s friends, went to China and taught astronomy. Schall, a student of Schreck, became an advisor to the Emperor and was honored with official status as a mandarin. At the same time, Europeans were taking pride in “new discoveries” that were long known to the Chinese. Stories like these illustrate premodern cultural exchange between Europe and China, and also the circulation of scientific ideas throughout Asia.

Section 1: Jesuits in China

During Galileo’s early telescopic observations, his friend Johann Schreck assisted him. Schreck was inducted into the Academy of the Lynx, an early scientific society, only a week after Galileo. A few years later, Schreck joined the Jesuits and went to China where he trained the astronomer Adam Schall. Schall instigated a joint publishing effort between Jesuit and Chinese astronomers which continued for the rest of the century, constituting a high point of international relations between Europe and China.

1. Matteo Ricci, De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas (Lyon, 1616), “On the Christian Expedition to China,” ed. Nicolaus Trigault.
2. Johann Schreck, Ensei kiki zusetsu rokusai (Japan, 1830), “Wonderful Machines of the Far West.”
3. Adam Schall, Historica narratio, de initio et progressu missionis apud Chinenses (Vienna, 1665), “Historical Narration of the Origin and Progress of the Mission to China.”
4. Athanasius Kircher, China monumentis (Amsterdam, 1667), “Monuments of China.”
5. Athanasius Kircher, Chine… Illustrée de Plusieurs Monuments (Amsterdam, 1670), “China, Illustrated with Many Monuments.”
6. Alvaro Semedo, History of that Great and Renowned Monarchy of China (London, 1655).
7. Louis Le Comte, Memoirs… made in a late Journey through the Empire of China (London, 1698), 2d ed.
8. Pierre-Marie-Alphonse Favier, Peking: Histoire et Description (Beijing, 1897), “Beijing: History and Description.”
9. Giacomo Cantelli, Il Regno della China (Rome, 1682), map; “The Kingdom of China, before now called Cathay and Mangin.”
10. Vincenzo Coronelli, Parte Occidentale della China… Parte Orientale della China (Venice, 1696), map; “The Western and Eastern Parts of China divided into their Provinces.”
11. J.B. du Halde, General History of China (London, 1741), trans. Richard Brookes, 3d ed., vols. 1, 3 and 4.

Section 2: Science in Asia

Francis Bacon championed the new era of modern scientific discovery by pointing to three supreme novelties: printing, gunpowder, and the magnet. The richness of Asian science is evident in the irony that each of these “modern European discoveries” came to Europe from Asia, unbeknownst to Bacon. Asia boasts a rich history of science and technology, even before the Scientific Revolution of early modern Europe.

12. Chinese lion, George and Cecilia McGhee Collection.
13. Confucius, Sinarum philosophus (Paris, 1687), “The Philosopher of China.”
14. John Williams, Observations of Comets from B.C. 611 to A.D. 1640, Extracted from the Chinese Annals (London, 1871).
15. J.B. du Halde, General History of China (London, 1741), trans. Richard Brookes, 3d ed., vol. 2.
16. Dou, Guifang, Shinkan Kotei meido kyukyo (Japan, 1659), “The Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Moxibustion.”
17. Yin-Yang medallion (ca. 1960).
18. Johann Nieuhof, Legatio Batavica ad magnum Tartariae Chamum Sungteium, modernum Sinae imperatorem (Amsterdam, 1668), “The Dutch Embassy to the Grand Tartar, Chamum Sungteium, Modern Emperor of China.”
19. Antoine Gaubil, “A Description of the Plan of Peking, the Capital of China,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (London, 1748).
20. Baba, Nobutake, Shogaku tenmon shinansho (Osaka, 1706), “Introduction to Astronomy.”

Further reading:
  • Benjamin A. Elman, On Their Own Terms: Science in China 1550-1900.
Curator: Kerry Magruder. Links are to the exhibit website, For more information, download the comprehensive, free Exhibit Guide from the iBook Store. Open Educational Resources are available at and ShareOK.
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Gallery 3. Galileo and the Telescope

Book lists index

Galileo and the Telescope

Location: Various.
Bizzell Memorial Library, 5th floor Exhibit Hall (Fall 2015, Summer 2016);
also incorporated in “An Artful Observation of the Cosmos,” Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (Spring 2016).

What was it like to be an astronomer in an era when art and mathematics were intertwined?

In the Starry Messenger (1610), Galileo published the first observations of the heavens made with the telescope. His report caused a sensation, as he claimed to discover mountains on the Moon, vast numbers of previously undetected stars and four satellites of Jupiter.

The planet Jupiter moves through the heavens without leaving its satellites behind. The Earth and Moon both have mountains, seas, atmospheres, and both shine by reflected light. All of these discoveries might suggest that the Earth, also, is a wandering planet.

1. Galileo, Sidereus nuncius (Venice, 1610), ”Starry Messenger”
2. Galileo Telescope replica (Museo Galileo)
3. Giorgio Vasari, Le opere (Florence, 1878-85), 8 vols. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

Further reading:
  • Stillman Drake, Galileo: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001; originally printed 1983 in the Past Masters series); discussion guide.
  • Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius, trans. Albert Van Helden (University of Chicago, 1989).
  • Maurice Finocchiaro, The Essential Galileo (Hackett, 2008)
Curator: Kerry Magruder. Links are to the exhibit website, For more information, download the comprehensive, free Exhibit Guide from the iBook Store. Open Educational Resources are available at and ShareOK.

Works listed here are on display in Bizzell Memorial Library (Fall 2015, Summer-Spring 2016) and also at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (Spring 2016). We thank Mark White, Director of the Fred Jones Museum, Francesca Giani (curator), Melissa Smith (educator) and all the Museum staff for incorporating many books described in “Galileo and the Telescope,” “The Moon and the Telescope,” “Galileo and Perspective Drawing,” and “The Sky at Night,” into their Spring 2016 exhibition, “An Artful Observation of the Cosmos.” Each of these galleries takes its point of departure from Galileo’s Sidereus nuncius (1610), which is listed as the first item for each of these galleries. Museum curator Francesca Giani took these themes to heart and illustrated them with art from the Museum. Her captions for that exhibit, relating the books to the art, are based in varying degrees upon the original captions provided beforehand in the Exhibit Guide and the Exhibit website. The melding of art and science by the Fred Jones Museum in their exhibit is a powerful example of the ability of Galileo’s World to throw light upon the world of OU today.

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Gallery 2. Galileo, Engineer

Book lists index

Galileo, Engineer

Location: Bizzell Memorial Library, 5th floor Exhibit Hall.
Introductory video

What is it like to be an engineer in an era of mathematical discovery?

In the Republic of Venice, Galileo’s day-to-day work as a Professor of Mathematics was that of a scientist-engineer. City officials and notable individuals called upon his expertise to solve civic, military and nautical problems in engineering. He addressed practical problems in light of their general significance for physics. His work as a scientist-engineer resulted in new mathematical and scientific instruments, including the military compass, thermoscope and telescope.

Section 1: Scientist-Engineers

Scientist-engineers were mathematicians who grasped the principles of mechanics, the use of mathematical instruments, and the operation of complex machines well enough to apply them to the complex tasks of city life. Their expertise applied to optics, architecture, metallurgy, pneumatics, hydraulics, transport, surveying, ship-building, fortification and the arts of war.

1. Vannoccio Biringuccio, De la Pirotechnia (Venice, 1540), “On the Art of Fire”
2. Georg Agricola, De re metallica (Basel, 1556), “On the Nature of Metals”
3. Giambattista della Porta, De Spiritali (Naples, 1606), “On Pneumatics”
4. Agostino Ramelli, Le Diverse et Artificiose Machine (Perugia, 1588), “Various and Ingenious Machines”
5. Buonaiuto Lorini, Delle Fortificationi (Venice, 1597), “On Fortifications”
6. Vittorio Zonca, Novo Teatro di Machine (Padua, 1621), “New Theater of Machines”
7. Niccolo Tartaglia, Nova scientia (Venice, 1558), “New Science”
8. Latino Orsini, Trattato del Radio Latino (Rome, 1583), ed. Ignazio Danti, “Treatise on the Measuring Stick”
9. Carlo Antonio Manzini, L’Occhiale all’Occhio, Dioptrica Practica (Bologna, 1660), “The Spectacle according to the Eye: Practical Optics”

Section 2: Calculation and Measurement

Scientists and engineers thrive upon mathematical innovations in calculation and measurement, as shown in several vignettes from the abacus to the slide rule to the analytical computer.

10. Pietro Borgi, Libro de Abacho (Venice, 1517), “Book on Calculation” (Abacus model)
11. William Schickard, Astroscopium (Stuttgart, 1698), “Star Viewer”
12. Gaspar Schott, Organum mathematicum (Würzburg, 1668), “On Mathematics”
13. John Napier, Mirifici logarithmorum canonis descriptio (Edinburgh, 1614), “A Description of the Marvelous Rule of Logarithms”
14. Seth Partridge, Description and Use of an Instrument, Called the Double Scale of Proportion (London, 1692)
15. Frederick Post Company, Demonstration Slide Rule (Chicago)
16. Ada Lovelace, “Notes” to a “Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage, by L.F. Menabrea,” in Scientific Memoirs (London, 1843), vol. 3
17. Apple Computer, Macintosh (1984)

Section 3: Galileo’s Instruments

Galileo’s engineering compass, thermoscope, microscope and telescope reflect his work as a mathematician, astronomer and scientist-engineer.

18. Galileo, Le Operazioni del Compasso Geometrico e Militare (Padua, 1606), “The Operations of the Geometrical and Military Compass”
19. Galileo Compass replica (Museo Galileo)
20. Baldessar Capra, Tyrocinia Astronomica (Padua, 1606), “School of the Stars”
21. Galileo, Difesa Contro alle Calunnie & Imposture di Baldessar Capra (Venice, 1607), “Defense Against the Calumnies and Impostures of Baldessar Capra!”
22. Galileo, Tractatus de proportionum instrumento (Strassburg, 1635), 2d ed., “The Operations of the Geometrical and Military Compass”
23. Galileo Thermoscope replica (Museo Galileo)

Further reading:
  • Matteo Valeriani, Galileo Engineer (Springer, 2010; Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, no. 269)
  • Paolo Galluzzi, Renaissance Engineers: From Brunelleschi to Leonardo da Vinci (Giunti Editore, 1997).
  • Ross King, Brunelleschi’s Dome (Penguin, 2002).
Curator: Kerry Magruder. Links are to the exhibit website, For more information, download the comprehensive, free Exhibit Guide from the iBook Store. Open Educational Resources are available at and ShareOK.
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Gallery 1. Music of the Spheres

Book lists index

Music of the Spheres

Location: Bizzell Memorial Library, 5th floor Exhibit Hall.
Introductory video

What would it be like to be a mathematician in an era when music and astronomy were sister sciences?

Music and astronomy are deeply interwoven. In Galileo’s world, the study of astronomy went hand-in-hand with music. Astronomy and music were sister sciences, and both were part of mathematics. The harmonious motions of the planets created the music of the spheres.

Section 1: Dance of the Heavens

Galileo’s father penned a major contribution to music theory, and Kepler formulated the harmonic law of planetary motions. Astronomy and music were deeply related in Galileo’s world.

1. Vincenzo Galilei, Dialogo della Musica Antica et della Moderna (Florence, 1581), “Dialogue on Ancient and Modern Music.”
2. Johann Kepler, Harmonices mundi (Linz, 1619), “Harmony of the Universe.”

Section 2: Music and Astronomy

According to the ancient Pythagoreans and many later writers, all of nature is a musical scale. Music throws light on astronomy, and astronomy deepens understanding of music. Only through mathematics may nature be known.

3. Martianus Capella, De nuptijs philologie et Mercurij (Verona, 1499), “The Marriage of Philology and Mercury.”
4. Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris (Oppenheim, 1617-21), “On the Two Worlds, namely the Major and the Minor.”
5. Athanasius Kircher, Musurgia universalis (Rome, 1650), “Universal Music-Making.”

Section 3: Celestial Spheres

In the Earth-centered universe of the Renaissance, a spherical Earth lies in the center surrounded by the regions of earth, water, air and fire. Rotating heavenly spheres, nesting one within the other from the Moon all the way out, carry the planets and stars. As these solid celestial spheres turn in place, their harmonious motions create the music of the spheres.

6. Hartmann Schedel, Liber chronicorum (Nuremberg, 1493), “The Nuremberg Chronicle.”
7. Peter Apian, Cosmographia (Antwerp, 1545), “Cosmography.”
8. Macrobius, In somnium Scipionis (Cologne, 1521), “On the Dream of Scipio.”

Section 4: The Meaning of the Planets

Galileo gave lectures on Dante. Chaucer wrote a treatise on the astrolabe. Shakespeare and Galileo shared the same birth year. Renaissance writers shared an interwoven literary and scientific heritage. Medieval and Renaissance works of literature are replete with the music of the spheres and the meaning of the planets.

9. Dante, La Divina Commedia e le Opere Minori (Venice, 1757), “The Divine Comedy.”
10. Chaucer, Workes (London, 1598), “Works.”
11. Shakespeare, Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies (London, 1632), “Second Folio.”

Section 5: Landmarks in Astronomy

During the century before Galileo, the three most notable books in astronomy were the Epitome of Ptolemy’s Almagest by Regiomontanus, Copernicus’ De revolutionibus, and Kepler’s Mysterium cosmographicum, published exactly 100 years after the Epitome. These works are displayed in the Exhibit Hall in the walk-around hexagonal cases.

12. Claudius Ptolemy, Almagest (Nuremberg, 1496), ed. Regiomontanus, “Almagest, ed. Regiomontanus.”
13. Claudius Ptolemy, Mathematicae constructionis (Wittenberg, 1549), “Almagest, ed. Reinhold.”
14. Claudius Ptolemy, Quadripartitum (Prague, 1610), “Four Books.”
15. Claudius Ptolemy, Armonikon (Oxford, 1682), “Harmonics.”
16. Nicolaus Copernicus, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (Nuremberg, 1543), “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.”
17. Johann Franciscus Offusius, De divina astrorum facultate (Paris, 1570), “On the Divine Faculty of Stars.”
18. Johann Kepler, Mysterium cosmographicum (Tübingen, 1596), “Sacred Mystery of the Structure of the Cosmos.”
19. “Kepler’s Universe” (Ron Mitchell, 2016), wooden sculpture. (coming soon).

Section 6: Observational Astronomy

For thousands of years before the telescope, astronomers observed the stars and planets, predicting their movements and mapping locations on the surface of the Earth. The astronomer’s toolkit contained remarkably capable instruments, including the sundial, astrolabe, celestial sphere, armillary sphere, quadrant, sextant and orrery. These instruments are displayed in various places around the Exhibit Hall.

20. Sundials: Pocket sundial, by David Beringer (Nuremberg, c. 1760);
Polyhedral sundial, by David Beringer (Nuremberg, c. 1790).
21. Regiomontanus, Calendarium (Venice, 1476), “Astronomical Calendar.”
22. Johann Stoeffler, Calendarium (Oppenheim, 1518), “Astronomical Calendar.”
23. Bernardino Baldi, Nova gnomonices (ca. 1592), ms, “Innovative Sundials.”
24. Nocturnal Dial replica (Hemisferium).
25. Complex Armillary Sphere replica (Brian Grieg).
26. Astrolabe replica (Brian Grieg).
27. Egnazio Danti, Dell’Uso et Fabbrica dell’Astrolabio (Florence, 1578), “On the Use and Fabrication of the Astrolabe.”
28. Philip van Lansbergen, In astrolabium introductorio (Middelburg, 1635), “Introduction to the Astrolabe.”
29. Philip van Lansbergen, In quadrantem (Middelburg, 1635), “On the Quadrant.”
30. Sextant replica.
31. Benjamin Martin, Description and Use of Both the Globes, the Armillary Sphere, and Orrery (London, 1760).
32. Delamarche Orrery (Paris, 1847).
33. Tellurian, Trippensee Planetarium Company (Detroit, c. 1908-1920).
34. James Ferguson, Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles (London, 1809).

Further reading:
  • C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image (Cambridge, 1964)
  • Dava Sobel, The Planets (Viking, 2005).
  • Peter Pesic, Music and the Making of Modern Science (MIT, 2014).
Curator: Kerry Magruder. Links are to the exhibit website, For more information, download the comprehensive, free Exhibit Guide from the iBook Store. Open Educational Resources are available at and ShareOK.
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