Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Looking through Galileo's eyes

12.01.2009
In 1609, exactly four centuries ago, Galileo revolutionised humankind's understanding of our position in the Universe when he used a telescope for the first time to study the heavens, which saw him sketching radical new views of the moon and discovering the satellites orbiting Jupiter.

In synch with the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), which marks the 400th anniversary of Galileo's discoveries, a group of astronomers and curators from the Arcetri Observatory and the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, both in Florence, Italy, are recreating the kind of telescope and conditions that led to Galileo's world-changing observations, reports January's Physics World.

Astronomers will be using the recreated apparatus to catalogue all the objects recorded in Galileo's 'Sidereus Nuncius' (or, in English, "Starry Messenger"), the treatise that Galileo published in 1610 which included many of his early observations.

The team has already observed the Moon and Saturn and are now recording images of Jupiter's moons and the phases of Venus, both of which provided crucial evidence to confirm the heliocentric hypothesis and prove that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe.

To recreate the apparatus, the team undertook a painstaking investigation of the nature of the lens of a telescope given to Galileo's patron, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo II, in 1610. That work involved measuring the shape and refractive index of the lens, and using X-ray fluorescence to determine the condition of the glass. The group now plans to put the images seen by the telescope online. Sadly, the team has not been able to build a replica of the telescope actually used by Galileo to make the observations reported in Sidereus Nuncius as only one lens of that instrument survives.

The project, however, is more ambitious than just recreating one of Galileo's telescopes. The ultimate aim is to catch what Galileo himself might have seen. It is known that Galileo died blind and the researchers are keen to open Galileo's tomb to retrieve DNA and diagnose his optical affliction in order to create conditions that resemble looking through Galileo's very own eyes. At present, though, the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Florence, where the tomb lies, is refusing the researchers access to Galileo's remains.

This project is just one of many activities being undertaken by professional and amateur astronomers during the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

This month's Physics World also describes highlights from some of the events due in 2009, including IYA 2009's opening ceremony at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris; GLOBE at night, a fortnight in March devoted to recording the magnitude of visible stars to measure light pollution in locations around the globe; and early April's 100 Hours of Astronomy, hoping to encourage as many people as possible to pick up a telescope and observe the stars just as Galileo did 400 years ago.

Also in the January edition of Physics World:

The ability to predict earthquakes could save thousands of lives every year, but for most scientists it is a pipedream. Jon Cartwright tells the story of one physicist who believes that earthquake warnings will soon be possible.

Artificial and natural shock waves can cause incredible damage and havoc, so a better understanding of the physics of shocks could save lives – or even the entire planet. Neil Bourne describes the common thread connecting antiterrorism measures, desk toys and the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Joe Winters | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iop.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>