Cultural Presentation on 4 August: Galileo's letter to Benedetto Castelli

Cultural Presentation on 4 August: Galileo’s letter to Benedetto Castelli

On 4 August at at 8pm, David Wilson will host a cultural presentation at the Italian Cultural Centre in Forrest (90 Franklin Street, Forrest ACT 2603). Entry is free, we hope to see you all there!

Presentation blurb: In August 2018 one of the most sensational discoveries of Galileo scholarship to have occurred in the last 100 years was made by Salvatore Ricciardo, an Italian historian of science, while browsing the archives of the Royal Society in London. The discovery throws new light on the circumstances surrounding the composition of a famous letter Galileo wrote to one of his former students, Benedetto Castelli, in December 1613. In this letter, Galileo outlined his views on the role he thought scientists’ should assign to Holy Scripture in their investigations of natural phenomena. This talk will describe the contents of Galileo’s letter, the circumstances giving rise to its composition, and the role it played in the subsequent treatment of Galileo by the Catholic Church. The talk will conclude with a description of Ricciardo’s discovery and the light it throws on the composition of this letter.

David’s background: David is a retired mathematician. He earned the degrees of B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Adelaide in 1968 and 1972 respectively. After 2 years as a Queen Elizabeth II research fellow at the University of New South Wales, he joined the Department of Mathematics at the University of Melbourne as a lecturer, where his main research interests were in the theory of games and optimisation. In 1985 joined the Australian Defence Department, where he performed mathematical research and consulting in fields associated with communications security, and from which he retired in 2011. He has long been fascinated by the history of early astronomy, and especially by the process by which the highly counterintuitive fact that the Earth orbits the Sun was discovered and established.   For more than ten years he was a regular contributor to Wikipedia articles in this and other areas of the history of science. Despite having contributed very little to Wikipedia since June 2019 he remains the most prolific contributor to its articles on Galileo and the Galileo affair.