Researchers figured out why Galileo sometimes used a fake name

(ORDO NEWS) — Long before scientists had the ability to post on social media, they had tracts where they could still ridicule each other’s ideas and opinions.

It turns out that Galileo Galilei, the father of the modern scientific method, performed several experiments under several pseudonyms.

And now researcher Matteo Cosci has found evidence that another pseudonym also belongs to this iconic Italian scientist.

To understand the context of the discovery, one must metaphorically travel back in time to about 418 years.

For more than 17 centuries, thanks to the influence and power of the Catholic Church, people believed the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic view of the universe: the Earth is in its center, and the stars are fixed in the firmament.

But in 1604, a stella nova (new star) was seen – what we now call a supernova.

The object is named after Johannes Kepler, who wrote about the sightings in his book De Stella nova in pede Serpentarii (On the new star at the foot of Ophiuchus).

But the first to record observations in Europe was the philosopher Lodovico delle Colombe, a staunch supporter of Aristotle, who believed that the supernova is not new, it has always been there, but not always visible.

Galileo did not believe that this was so, and decided to bring delle Colombe to justice by writing a treatise called Astronomical Reflections by Alimberto Mauri.

Who is Alimberto Mauri? As it turned out, it was Galileo himself. Attribution was suspected for a long time, but there was not enough evidence.

The most obvious connection between this treatise and the scientist was a letter signed by Galileo himself, which spoke about this work.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a forgery created in the 1900s by serial counterfeiter Tobia Nicotra. Thus, although it seemed obvious that the work was due to Galileo, this could not be proven until now.

Cosci of the Ca’Foscari University of Venice reviewed the notes Galileo was writing at the time and was struck by one in which the scholar complains that Delle Colombe spoke of him with contempt.

Cosci searched the text of delle Colombe and noticed that Galileo’s name was never mentioned.

However, there was the name Alimberto Mauri, as well as a certain Cecco (another pseudonym used by Galileo was Cecco da Ronchitti), and a reference to “a certain doctor in Padua” where Galileo taught and worked. Koschi concluded that the note is Galileo himself, confirming that he was the author.

So why use an alias? This was certainly not to avoid the scrutiny of the Church that would come later. In fact, it was necessary to look for a new patron no longer in the Venetian Republic, but in Rome itself.

Venice and the Papal States were at war, and Galileo could not speak too openly about looking for work with the enemy… but he devoted the discussion to the Pope’s own treasurer.

It is worth noting that this treatise complements the already extensive literature of Galileo. In it, he discussed the new star, the mountains on the moon, and attempts to explain the movement of bodies in space.

These are some of the bases on which his astronomical observations could challenge the view of the universe that has been accepted for nearly 2,000 years.


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