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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scientific precision, historical accuracy, clarity., 17 Mar 2006
Andrea Frova and Mariapiera Marenzana’s Thus Spoke Galileo has three main virtues that will recommend the work to a great many readers: its scientific precision, its historical accuracy, and its desire for clarity. The authors’ presentation and discussion of Galileo’s texts highlight the enduring importance of his achievements but also the reasons for his errors (and, indeed, how intelligent these errors were). Moreover, by presenting questions on everyday phenomena and problems that illustrate the fundamental principles of physics in a series of stimulating and enjoyable asides to the reader, the authors leave us in no doubt that Galileo remains a great master even today, with an astonishing ability to explain and clarify ideas, that our immediate responses to the questions, about movement or velocity for instance, may even be pre-Galilean, and that the common sense of educated adults today may turn out to be childishly Aristotelian. Problems of astronomy, kinematics, dynamics and methodology are linked to everyday situations that highlight the core elements of the difficulties. The numerous drawings, figures and photographs used to illustrate these problems present the solutions soundly and elegantly. What is more, the wide-ranging commentaries and explanations are surprisingly accessible: even many of the notes on mathematical physics at the end of each chapter, written for more expert readers, are stimulating and informative. Above all, the book manages to convey Galileo’s enormous intellectual curiosity and the intense pleasure he took in learning – attributes that the authors clearly admire and share. Today, as in Galileo’s times, we must continue to fight against manipulation. At a time when public voices show such disdain for our intellect, we should welcome Frova and Marenzana’s defence of rational thinking and intellectual honesty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hearing and understanding Galileo speaking, 13 Mar 2006
Everyone knows that Galileo Galilei was one of the founders of modern science and that he was persecuted by the Catholic Church. However, very few people have read his writings. This book offers a broad selection of his original texts, presented in such a way as to awaken readers’ curiosity and to provide them with the tools needed to place the writings in their historical context.
The book opens with an imaginary self-portrait: a “collage” of letters and other documents of the time, in which Galileo speaks vividly about his life and his clash with the Church, culminating in his dramatic abjuration. The personality that emerges is rich in lights and shades, a blunt but also flexible character, who is aware that abjuration represents only a temporary defeat for ideas which, in the long run, will be triumphant.
In each of the chapters which follow, one major Galilean theme is examined: after an introduction covering the relevant knowledge of the time (concerning the chapter's theme), highlights from the original texts are presented, based on the well-known English translations by Stillman Drake and other experts. Historical comments bring out the impact of Galileo’s ideas upon the evolution of science, and simple mathematical notes deal with the topic in modern scientific terms.
The reader will discover that Galileo draws amply from his predecessors: for instance, the famous piece on inertia and relativity on board a moving ship is taken from Giordano Bruno and the wonderful mental experiment on the fall of bodies derives from Giovanni Battista Benedetti. However, Galileo shows an extraordinary ability for bringing together diverse observations and reasoning within a single coherent framework, and for getting the most out of available technologies by building scientific instruments of paramount importance.
This valuable and quite unique book shows in a direct manner the great many interests of Galileo in the domains of science and culture, his prodigious curiosity and his exceptional ability as a science popularizer. The reader will be forced to reflect upon the importance of the interdisciplinary approach, which today, unfortunately, is overwhelmed by hyper-specialization.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new, welcome contribution to better understand Galileo, 15 Mar 2006
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Annibale Fantoli (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) - See all my reviews
This is the English translation of the Italian book "Parola di Galileo" written by Andrea Frova, profesdor of General Physics at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and Mariapiera Marenzana, an autor of essays on a wide range of cultural topics. In the never ending flow of studies on Galieo as the father of modern science and the victim of the Church's narrow traditionalism, this work does not pretend to give a new contribution on the plan of strict scholarly research. Rather, its aim is to give in an anthological form toi the reader, especially the young one, "an overview of Galileo's all embracing interests and extremely wide spectruim of achievements" A rich variety of texts is offered in twenty two chapyers, all of which (except the last one) deal with cultural topics to be found in Galileo's majior works, from Mechanics to Optics, Materials and Astronomy. Each text is preceded by introductory notes, which cultural and historical references aimed also at following the development of Galileo's unwanted clash with the Church theologians. At the end of each chapter there is a mathematical commentary for those interested in seeing Galileo's reeasoning translated into present-day mathematical formalism. The final chapter 22 deal with Galileo's trial and abjuration and concludes with a sharp criticism of the Church recent attempt at "rehabilitating" him. I think this book is a very welcome and valuable contribution to a better understanding of the greatness of Galileo's achievements (as well as of his failures)especially for the English speaking reader to whom the authors have provided a vwery rich and stimulating documentary information. No doubgt, it will be well appreciated by teachers and students of high school and of introductory university courses on science and science history, as well as by the cultivated public at large.
Annibale Fantoli, University of Victoria, Canada
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to know Galileo, 15 Mar 2006
Way back in December 1635 Galilei wrote this biting statement: "How wretched is this present climate of ours, in which there reigns a fixed resolution to exterminate all novelty, especially in the sciences, as if all knowledge had already been acquired". Frova and Marenzana do well to remind us of this statement in the opening to their very fine book. For, in the authors' view, the book is aimed primarily at young people – and these, in school and everyday life, all too often have to witness the obduracy with which science is being consigned to the catalogue of ills and misfortunes.
It is not easy to list all the merits of the book. However, let me immediately single out the delightful "Posthumous self-portrait of Galileo Galilei, philosopher", which Frova and Marenzana have written using perfectly plausible seventeenth-century Italian language – the flavor of which can also be savored in the English translation – and the sixth chapter, in which the typically Galilean connection drawn between physics and music is explored.
But taken as a whole, the book, in my opinion, is valuable as a reasoned, explanatory guide to Galileo, centered on excerpts from his original writings. It is well known that the great scientist was a highly gifted writer, and his literary talent played a role of no little importance in his unfortunate battle with the more conservative side of the Roman Church. And also with those intellectuals whom he used to define "filosofi in libris", that is to say, second-rate thinkers who preferred scholarly old books to experiments and mathematical argumentation.
The huge body of Galilean studies was lacking in a clear, readable book, among whose pages one could find selected and properly commented-upon passages of the scientific and philosophical prose of the author of the Dialogue. This gap has now been filled. And another gap has been filled, too – that concerning opinions on the so-called "rehabilitation" of Galileo. Frova and Marenzana make us reflect on the fact that the real problem was not so much that Galileo needed rehabilitating - if anything it was his persecutors who needed rehabilitating.
And this, among other things, to avoid everything being reduced to the level of a mere propaganda exercise, aimed at accepting from science only what it is absolutely impossible to confute, while rejecting "the concept of a mutable truth" and "the use of reasoning in human life in general". Two issues, these, which were at the very core of the Galilean enterprise, and which should, today, be nourishing a correct and lay education of young people.
Enrico Bellone
Professor of History of Science, University of Milan
Director of Le Scienze (Italian edition of Scientific American)
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5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable, new contribution to better understand Galileo, 16 Mar 2006
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This is the English translation of the Italian book "Parola di Galileo", written by Andrea Frova, Professor of General Physics at the University of Rome "la Sapienza" and Mariapiera Marenzana, author of essays on a wide range of cultural topics. In the never ending flow of studies on Galileo as the father of modern science and the victim of the Church's narrow traditionalism, this work does not pretend to give a new contribution on the plan of strict scholarly research. Rather, its aim is to give in an anthological form to the reader, especially the young one, "an overview of Galileo's all-embracing interests and extremely wide spectrum of achievements". A rich variety of texts is offered in twenty two chaptgers, all of which (except the last one) deal with central topics to be found in Galileo's major works, from Mechanics to Optics, Materials and Astronomy. Each text is preceded by introductory notes, with cultural and historical references aimed also at following the development of Galileo's unwanted clash with the Church theologians. At the end of each chapter there is a mathematical commentary for those interested in seeing Galileo's reasoning translated into presetn-day mathamatical formalism. The final chapter 22 deals with Galileo's trial and abjuration, and concludes with a sharp criticism of the Church recent attempt at "rehabilitating" him. I think this book is a very welcome and valuabl;e contribution to a better understanding of the greatness of Galileo's achievemen as well as of his sailures, especially for the English speaking reader to whom th authors have provided a very rich and stimulating documentary information. No doubt, it will be well appreciated by teachers and students of high school and of introductory courses on science and science history, as well as by the cultivated public at large.
Annibale Fantoli, University of Victoria , Canada
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Thus Spoke Galileo: The great scientist's ideas and their relevance to the present day
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