The Universe: Cosmology, Nature etc.

Let us discuss the Universe and all it's wonders here. The reverence of the Cosmos and the understanding of Nature. What do we know. What we do know. Our place. Our Pale Blue Dot.

Pretty much everything from Physics to Biology should be discussed here. I am sure many of us share the interest on many of these subjects. Share Images, videos, articles...

I will start by sharing this precious gem my Physics & Chemistry teacher showed me three years ago. Not rare. Some of you have seen it already. I think it is of common interest. It is The Scale of the Universe: Amazing how we are undeniably so insignificant when it comes to the great picture of how the Universe and Nature work. The site is very interesting. Everyday you get to see new content on Astronomy. Articles and photographs.

Discussion on environmentalism is also welcome as long as it does not include politics. Also, please abstain from any debates on theology, existentialism etc...

Have fun. :)

wooo...oooh! the cosmos is so BIG and i'm so small wonder i feel diZZy

of course i too hope we will visited by aliens but given the scale of things is that possible?

watching alien videos on Utube i'm thinking? it all looks like proof but how come these storys don't make mainstream news

if UFO's are flying over NY city post 9/11 how come fighter jets are not scrambled

if US military are retro engineering alien spaceship technology how come
modern fighter aircraft are still burning vast amounts of fossil fuels

Mark L
not as small as i thought

wow! great video..............who would not wish to be a cosmic child

so what connexts life if anything? i hear a concept 'there is only one consciousness thoughout the cosmos'

so how come all the little things are eating each other

one may take the blood out of a body............put it back....but too late life is gone..............where?

of course this is the question that has been asked by so many

Mark L

bigmac mac d's success is not the only mystery of the cosmos

however much we learn.............there is always more we realise is just out of our comprehension

for sure there are bigger things to keep us on our toes

hope you return to read this
Mark L
Astro-physics is so fascinating. Black holes, multiverses, space-time, dark matter, singularities. It is a triumph of science that we are able to find things that we cannot observe.

Did you know that because gravity and time are dependent, that they have to adjust satellite clocks to match ours down at the surface? If you would wait a minute just outside the 'event horizon' of a black hole, 1000 years would have passed on earth. Time travel (only forward) is possible.
Jagartrott said:
Astro-physics is so fascinating. Black holes, multiverses, space-time, dark matter, singularities. It is a triumph of science that we are able to find things that we cannot observe.

Did you know that because gravity and time are dependent, that they have to adjust satellite clocks to match ours down at the surface? If you would wait a minute just outside the 'event horizon' of a black hole, 1000 years would have passed on earth. Time travel (only forward) is possible.

Both General Relativity (gravity) and Special Relativity (speed relativity / relationship between space and time) theories apply for correction factors for GPS satellite clocks, indeed they slightly cancel each other out. General Relativity is the dominant factor.

The satellite's clocks appear to run slower to people on the earth's surface since the satellites are moving faster relative to people on the Earth so we observe the clock losing ~7 microseconds/day, however because they are also orbiting in a less steep part of the Earth's gravity well, the satellite's clock appear to surface observers to run more quickly, by ~45 microseconds/day. The net results is the GPS satellite clocks appear to run faster by 38 microseconds/day.

That's enough such that if relativistic time corrections were not applied to the clocks, GPS satellite positioning on Earth would be out by 10km after just one day.
Edit: oops I didn't remember that BigMac did not wish any political or theological debate on his thread, so I encourage him to move my post elsewhere if he wants to (but not the theology thread, please). :)


The main source for most of this text is “Bernard Plouvier – L’affaire Galilée: une supercherie du sot XIXe siècle” (Dualpha 2009). His own main sources are Arthur Koestler - The Sleepwalkers - A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe (Hutchinson, 1959) and Pierre Aubanel’s “Le genie sous la tiare : Urbain VIII et Galilée (Fayard, 1929). A lot of what has been claimed by Plouvier can be verified in Jean Sévillia’s “Politiquement incorrect” (Fayard, 2010)

I can humbly say that I'm no expert in cosmology at all but this text is rather a historical text than a scientific one, should be read that way, at least.

The Start of the Galileo Myth

The silencing of Galileo did not upset the learned people of the 16th and 17th centuries, argues Plouvier. Diderot’s & d’Alembert’s Encyclopedia (the greatest achievement of the Enlightenment; 1751 to 1772) considers him as a scholar of minor importance while it makes a eulogy of Kepler, Descartes and Newton. Neither Montesquieu nor Vauvenargues are interested in Galileo while Newton’s discoveries fascinated them. In the nineteenth century, however, the century of “economic liberalism”, the anti-Catholic controversy gained an awful lot of success while “social Catholics” such as René de la Tour du Pin or Bishop Wilhelm von Ketteler (eventually influencing Pope Leo XIII in publishing the great encyclical Rerum Novarum and paving the way for all social reforms of the 20th century) were looking to find ways to protect the laboring classes that capitalism transformed into a proletariat. The success of the anti-Catholic propaganda in its treatment of the Galileo Trial has never been denied since.

Voltaire (14th Philosophical letter, 1734) :
« The great Galileo, at the age of four score, groaned away his days in the dungeons of the Inquisition because he had demonstrated by irrefragable proof the motion of the Earth ».
Three lies in this statement : Galileo died at age 77, so he could not have been 80 during his trial, he’s never seen the Inquisition’s dungeons and he never demonstrated the motion of the Earth, let alone by irrefragable proof. Voltaire was a serial liar. For example, he’s the one that invented the myth that the “Man in the Iron Mask” was one of King Louis XIV’s siblings whose existence would discredit the King’s reign, while such a secret is obviously impossible to keep (read Jean-Christian Petitfils or Michel Vergé-Franceschi about The Man in the Iron Mask).

In 1755 he was at it again (one of his last letters to Rousseau):
“Galileo’s enemies made him moan in dungeons, at age 70, for having known the earth movement, what is more shameful is that they forced him to retract.”
At least he was correct about the age.

Voltaire’s comments had huge influence. As we can see from Carl Sagan’s crap (in Cosmos, 1980):
“[Galileo languished] in a Catholic dungeon threatened with torture [for his] heretic view that the earth moved about the sun”.
So again, Galileo has never been kept in a dungeon, he was far from being threatened to torture (60+ year old convicts were never tortured) and his heresy was not expressing a VIEW but claiming it was the right one without backing it up with convincing arguments.

The Galileo myth started by Voltaire in the mid-eighteenth century was an invention by the new rising Bourgeois class against the Church, which was the biggest landowner of the time. These “nouveaux riches” were merchants, in particular making huge profit with the slave trade (Voltaire in particular was a huge slave trader). It got very widespread among philosophers by the French Revolution but failed to reach the mass. It wasn’t until the 19th century, that the Bourgeoisie truly got the levers of control and with the new secularist school system, they could propagate their revised history to the new generations.

Philarète Chasles was a literary critic (professor at the “Collège de France”) and journalist under the French 2nd Empire (Napoleon III). He was a republican and had no balls to trash the regime, so rather vilified the Church instead. The French bishops made the catastrophic mistake of supporting the regime, while Napoleon III supported Garibaldi in Italy. The lower Clergy supported to common people, unlike the republicans. Chasles used the Galileo Trial against the Church: “Galileo Galilei, sa vie, son procès et ses contemporains d’après des documents originaux” (Poulet Malassis, 1862).

In the 20th century, all dictatorial regimes respected « Galileo’s martyrdom ». Let’s just remember Wilhelm Frick’s speech on August 3 1934. He was the 3rd Reich’s Home Secretary and a doctor in law.

Historical Approach of the Heliocentrist Model

3 millenium BC the Babylonians linked the lunar phases with the phenomenon of tides. Galileo denied this. In his opinion the earth rotation around its axis explained the phenomenon of tides.
6 century BC, Pythagoras of Samos posit that the universe should be translated into mathematical language. Galileo was hailed as a genius for saying the same thing without quoting his sources (a bad habit of this gentleman’s ; just like Copernicus knew about Aristarchus’ heliocentric model but failed to cite him as source), in The Assayer 1623.

Aristarchus of Samos was the first to claim that the Sun was at the centre of the Universe, that the earth was revolving around it, that the earth rotates around its own axis and that the Sun’s diameter was way larger than the earth’s. His model has been rejected by the Greeks but has never been forgotten before Copernicus.

Irish theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena (~810-~870) made up a mixed geo-heliocentric model in which the moon and the sun revolve around the earth and the other planets around the sun (so that the ensemble sun+planets revolves around the earth). It was an old idea by Heraclides Pontius and influenced Tycho Brahe’s model.

In 1337, the bishop of Lisieux, Nicolas Oresme, places the sun at the centre of the universe, posit that the earth revolves around it and rotates around its own axis that passes through the two poles. It didn’t cause any trouble in Rome or among Inquisitors. He also coined the term “inertia”. Long before Galileo…

In his 1440 book “Learned Ignorance”, Nicholas of Kues/Cusa rejected Aristotle’s/Ptolemy’s cosmology. He claimed that the universe is infinite (long before Giordano Bruno) and implies that the sun is at the centre of what we now call the “solar system”. He actually claimed that "Thus the fabric of the world (machina mundi) will quasi have its center everywhere and circumference nowhere." Pope Nicholas V frequently consulted him.

Johann Muller, aka Regiomontanus (1436-76), read Aristarchus of Samos and probably arrived at a theory of heliocentrism before he died; a manuscript shows particular attention to the heliocentric theory of the Pythagorean Aristarchus, mention was also given to the motion of the earth in a letter to a friend, totally destroyed Ptolemy’s epicycles and introduced non-circular planet orbits (in Arthur Koestler, The Sleepwalker 1959). He was a Bavarian Catholic bishop. He was ahead of Copernicus. Copernicus brought back Ptolemy’s circular orbits and epicycles! Galileo would buy this imbecility. Even worse, Copernicus brought back the idea that the stars are hanging on the firmament while Nicholas of Kues already argued that there were other worlds.

When Copernicus passed away, a lot of professor already taught the heliocentric model such as bishop Tiedemann Giese who convinced Pope Clement VII (elected in 1523) [source Pierre Aubanel in Le genie sous la tiare, Urbain VIII et Galilée; 1929].

Kepler defended heliocentrism in his first book Mysterium cosmographicum, in 1595. That book has never been indexed by the Church. At that time, Galileo was still teaching geocentrism, and for another 15 years!! Kepler was younger than Galileo (Galileo b.1564; Kepler b. 1571). Kepler corrected all of Copernicus’ mistakes (the epicycles, a.o.). He was convinced that the planets moved harmoniously, hence the ovoid/elliptic orbit. Kepler was actually reviving was Regiomontanus saw. Kepler had much more class than Galileo did. He was the first to pay tribute to his elders: Copernicus and Brahe. Galileo was a selfish imbecile who never accepted any ideas that were contrary to his own, even when he was wrong. Kepler set out his first two laws in Astronomia nova, 1609 and his 3rd one in 1618:
1. The orbit of a planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci.
2. A line segment joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time.[1]
3. The square of the orbital period of a planet is proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit.
Kepler argued that the phenomenon of tides is explained by the moon’s magnetism, just like a magnet on a piece of iron (referring to the works by Pierre de Maricourt about magnets; 13th century).

He generously sent a copy of his book to Galileo who did not understand a thing about it. Galileo rejected the ellipses, rejected the planets’ variations in speed and rejected the influence of the lunar phases on the tide phenomenon.

Kepler was insulted by the Lutheran clergy in Wurtemberg for his work but found shelter among the Jesuits of Ingolstadt, Bavaria. Kepler also used an astronomic telescope in summer 1610, much more efficient than Galileo’s .

Galileo’s first book “Sidereus nuncius” (in 1610) seemed like a good one, he noted the Milky Way, the Moon’s mountainous surface, 4 (of the 16) Jupiter “Moons” which he called Medician stars, in order to flatter Cosimo II of Medici’ ego. Galileo has always been a parvenu. Besides he saw that Saturn had a special shape but thought it was made of three united planets. The Jesuit astronomer Father Christophorus Clavius (1538-1612) thought that Saturn had an oblong shape. He was closer to noticing Saturn’s rings than Galileo was.

But as Arthur Koestler put it (op.cit.):
"after his sensational discoveries in 1610, Galileo neglected both observational research and astronomic theory in favour of his propaganda crusade. By the time he wrote the Dialogue he had lost touch with new developments in that field, and forgotten even what Copernicus had said."

Holy Scriptures in the Debate

Galileo being a layman was advised against introducing the Holy Scriptures in the debate. Out of carefulness, a scientist should never do that. He was an astronomer and not a theologians. He was not trained to study texts, neither a theologians nor a literary critic.
Two mention of the sun might suggest it revolved around the earth in the Old Testament. Verse 12 & 14 from the 10th chapter of the book of Joshua claimed that the Sun stopped for a whole day (to help Joshua exterminate the Amorites). In Verse 5 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, “the sun rises and sets”.
Only in the Old Testament, could you find such quotes. There’s nothing of that in the New one. So for Christians who believe that the New Covenant supplanted the Old one, it’s easy to claim that the Old Testament is ambivalent and that such quotes can just be taken lyrically or even be rejected.

However when it comes to trying to find arguments in favour of his cause (heliocentrism), Galileo did not mind referring to the same Scriptures, scientifically he could find none. In a letter of March 23 1615 to Cardinal Piero Dini he quoted a verse of Psalm 18 (the 17th one of the Saint Jerome Vulgate): “The Earth trembled and quaked…” Galileo raved to the extent of taking an earthquake as argument of the rotation of the Earth around its axis.

For the Church’s elders the only way to claim that a hypothesis is true is to demonstrate it with proofs. Then it can no longer be contradicted by the Scriptures. That has always been the Church’s doctrine, clearly established by the Council of Trent. Also the Council of Trent consolidated the clercs’ monopoly on the interpretation of the Scriptures.

The 1616 Decree

Cardinal Roberto Bellarmin was the main animator of the missionary movement. The Jesuits who were sent to China, such as the great Matteo Ricci, taught heliocentrism. Even when the Galileo trial was under way in Rome. In Rome too, heliocentrism was taught, based on Kepler’s theories (in Pierre Aubanel “Le genie sous la tiare, Urbain VIII et Galilée”, 1929).
Bellarmin is currently seen as a censor and a terrible monster for condemning Giordano Bruno for heresy (nothing to do with Bruno’s cosmological views, we should not forget that Bruno was frequenting Elizabeth I’s greatest secret agents: John Dee and Sir Philip Sidney - both occultists and cabbalists - when England was a fierce enemy of Catholicity, in the heat of the Nine Years War also called Tyrone's Rebellion or Cogadh na Naoi mBliana – 1594-1603 - when England massacred the Irish – 100,000 Irish Catholics dead). As a matter of fact Bellarmin was a high class Cardinal and was very pragmatic in terms of astronomy.

When in March 1615, Paolo Foscarini – Napolitan Carmelite – made an eulogy of Copernicus, also honouring Galileo, Bellarmin politely reminded him (on April 4) that “Copernicus’ hypothesis is not an absolute truth.” “If there were any real proof that the Sun was immobile at the centre of the Universe and that the Earth revolved around it… we should have to explain the passages from the Scriptures that SEEM to tell the opposite” [capitalized by myself].

Only in September 1615 Galileo came to Rome with what he considered the “absolute proof” that the Earth was rotating around its own axis: the phenomenon of tides !!! (Koestler, op.cit.) The Jesuits from Rome’s Observatory were laughing their head off. Cardinals Bellarmin & Barberini (future Pope Urban VIII) were laughing but felt embarrassed. Everybody in Rome had accepted Kepler’s explanation on the lunar magnetism (Newton would add later that the Sun had an equal role in the tide movement than the Moon). René Descartes would later ridicule that argument. But Galileo convinced 22 year old naïve Copernician Cardinal Alessandro Orsini who reported it to Pope Paul V. The Pope judged it ludicrous (rightly so!) and ordered to bring this whole “Copernicus Affair” to the Saint Office. That is how Galileo’s provocation and will to annoy everybody led to the infamous decree of 1616. Several years later, Galileo proved equally as ridiculous when he considered the phenomenon of comets as similar to atmospheric phenomena such as auroras. Brahe might be lagging behind with his geocentric model but he understood the comet movement very well (all this in Koestler, 1959).

On February 24 1616 the Jury of the Saint Office judged the Copernician ideas erroneous: the Sun’s immobility, at the centre of the Universe and the earth revolving around it. So the Saint Office asked the Pope to ban Copernicus’ book … “until it is corrected” (a mention that has curiously been omitted by many historians). The words “heresy” or “heretics” have never been mentioned on that day! Neither Galileo nor his books have been mentioned!

That very same day Bellarmin claimed “We should not condemn any opinion… The Earth’s movement is not absolutely contrary to the Scriptures” (in Aubanel, 1929). And father Placido Mirto (a Theatine): “Copernicus’ book is suspended but his opinion is not condemned, nor even condemnable” (ibid.).

On February 25, Pope Paul V ordered Bellarmin to get Galileo to stop teaching the 3 assumptions judged wrong by the Saint Office the day before. Angelis Seghity typed the report of the conversation between Bellarmin and Galileo (Feb. 26). Galileo said: “I promise” (important to remember for later). [in: Koestler, 1959 & Émile Namer “L’affaire Galilée”, Fayard 1975; a pro-Galileo book]

What is never said by historians is that Paul V authorized the publishing of the Copernicus book back in 1620 (and not in 1741 like is usually said) with an imprimatur of the Saint Office (“imprimatur” is a “read & approved” mention) and with a few edits notably by Cardinal Barberini (future Urban VIII) pointing towards the lack of evidence (which is true, evidence was missing) to support the stated assumptions (the corrections that the Saint Office evoked in the 1616 decree). Likewise Paul V authorized the teaching as a hypothesis of the rotation around its own axis (while heliocentrism is still taught likewise by the missionaries in China, a.o.). Pierre Aubanel is still the source for those facts.

Finally on May 26 1616 Bellarmin accepted to sign a declaration in which he stated that “Galileo has abjured no opinion, no doctrine [but he keeps] licence to work to prove the hypotheses that he judges right” (again the full text is in Aubanel 1929).

I hope, dear reader, that you’ve recorded what this means. Galileo should no longer teach a theory that he cannot prove but he’s still entitled to carry on his research !!!

Maffeo Barberini, aka Pope Urban VIII

Urban VIII was a very good man. He had grain silos built in order to keep the surpluses of good crops which were meant to be distributed for free to people in need when times are harder (in “Daniel-Rops”, “L’Église de la Renaissance et de la Réforme”, 2 vol., Fayard, 1955).

He was elected in 1623 and died in 1644. Urban VIII/Cardinal Barberini was a supporter of heliocentrism (unlike many think). Philarète Chasles – so one of the first eulogist of Galileo in 1862 – said that ever since 1611, Barberini “has leant towards the Copernician idea” (sic). “Copernician idea” means heliocentrism, here, for Barberini rejected all of Copernicus craps about epicycles and such. Chasles still had to accept evidence but it was the early days of Catholic bashing. His successors forgot about that fact.

In 1624, Galileo is invited by Urban VIII in Rome and asked for a revision of the 1616 decree. Urban claimed once again that there were no evidence for the time being in favour heliocentrism and rebuked once again the ridiculous argument of tide phenomenon (in Aubanel, 1929) but that very same year he entitled Galileo to prepare a book (which was meant to be published with a pontifical “imprimatur”) about heliocentrism on three conditions: presenting the two systems in an impartial way, considering the two as working hypotheses and not introducing discussions or any comments on the Holy Scriptures in it (Koestler, 1959). Those three conditions were perfectly wise, given the current state of knowledge…

The “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” was completed in 1630. It’s a discussion between three characters Salviati (Copernician), Sagredo (a humanist, neutral on the topic) and Simplicio (the resident tool, Aristotelician but also supporter of the lunar phase theory re: the tide phenomenon). In other words, Galileo ridicules Kepler (without naming him) for his view on the tide phenomenon, while the latter was utterly right and everybody knew he was. It’s pathetic. Brahe is also ridiculed here. Let’s remember that Kepler always paid tribute to his predecessors. Besides this book was presented as a serious scientific book while it has more to do with a work of vulgarization with enormous mistakes. On top of that he did include the Scriptures in the debate while he promised Urban not to.

The Master of the Sacred Palace, Nicholas Riccardi, was appointed by the Pope to grant Galileo the imprimatur but he asked Galileo two corrections: the impartiality re: the two systems (considered hypotheses) and deleting the comments re: Holy Scriptures. Riccardi considered granting the imprimatur only after having re-read each leaflet of the book with Prince Federico Cesi, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, as the printing goes (in Koestler 1959). But Cesi dies and there is a Plague epidemic in Central Italy, so that communication between Florence & Rome is difficult.

So Galileo capitalized on the situation to publish and bind his book in Florence with the pontifical imprimatur without sending the book to Riccardi, despiting committing to it. In modern day law, this is called forgery and the use of forgery. Of course, he did not fulfill any of the conditions that the Pope gave him (while the Pope was his employer!) and turned back on his 1616. Galileo is a perjurer! The fraud was orchestrated by Mgr Giovanni Ciampoli in order to deceive Riccardi. Ciampoli was kicked off of the Vatican for that. Galileo had to acknowledge on the very first day of the trial that he did not send the copy of his book to Riccardi.

The Trial

“I am convinced that the conflict between the Church and Galileo (or Copernicus, for that matter) was not inevitable; it was not a collision waiting to happen between two incompatible philosophies, or a war fated to erupt sooner or later. Rather I believe it was a clash of personalities, of individuals, aggravated by unfortunate coincidences. In other words, I consider it naïve and wrong to see in Galileo’s trial a kind of Greek tragedy, a one-on-one battle between ‘blind faith’ and ‘enlightened reason’”
(Arthur Koestler, 1959).

Unlike was literary hacks have argued till date, Galileo was very well treated during his trial. He’s never been tortured and has never been to a dungeon. However, the Pope granted him a comfortable 5-room apartment, the right to have a walk in a park and even to circulate in Rome. It’s an unprecedented privilege. Anti-Catholics could very well point towards the huge privilege that the Church granted to Galileo who by far did not deserve it. That’s the only thing the Church might be blamed for. In claiming that Galileo was sent to a dungeon, they just made fools of themselves.

Among the Congregation of the Saint Office, only only one of the 10 cardinals was a geocentrist: Gasparre Borgia. The others: Antonio & Francesco Barberini, Guido Bentivoglio, Felice Centino, Berlinguero Gesso, Marzio Ginetto, Desiderio Scaglia, Fabrizio Verospio & Laudivio Zacchia ALL supported the “Copernician doctrine”.

The Saint Office’s verdict came on June 22 1633. It stated that “the assertion that the sun is immobile at the centre of the Universe is formally heretic.” The key word is “formally”, which means “in the form of”, in the way it was said (read the Galileo put it). It’s opposed to “absolutely” or “potentially”. The Saint Office simply meant that it should have been backed up with evidence and Galileo did not do that. Failing that, the geocentric model should be kept since it’s what our senses say. Our sight tells us that the sun is rising in the East, setting in the West, so it turns and we can’t really see the earth turning around its own axis. The burden of proof naturally lay in the hands of the heliocentrists.

Galileo was condemned to a “formal prison”, a house arrest and to repeat psalms (which he did not actually do, his daughters, who were nuns did). The Pope even reserved himself the right to moderate or even lift the sentence whenever it fit him. The house arrest was actually a golden retirement. For the first fortnight, he was at the Tuscan embassy in Rome, namely the magnificent Villa Medici; then in the archiepiscopal palace of Siena for 5 months; then in his own large & comfortable villa in Arcetri, Florence. He was never left alone, he had numerous visits, including a young John Milton or the scientist Evangelista Torricelli. In 1638, Galileo finally gained the right to frequent the big Tuscan cities. Should we pity him? He also wrote his last book, that year, probably the most interesting one, as it’s the only one that Newton quoted (which shows how influential a scientist Galileo was!). As a matter of fact, Galileo’s theories are bringing us back at least one and half century behind in terms of knowledge of the universe. Yet he’s still hailed as a pioneer, for “defying” the Church…

Pope Urban VIII was never portrayed as Simplicio

That is just another anti-Catholic fib. Some sort of a B-plan since Galileo was no martyr of science. He was sentenced for allegedly being a caricaturist who dared to ridicule the powerful Pope. Dr Bernard Plouvier claimed it came from 19th Freemasons of the Risorgimento period in Italy. But Galileo himself denied this. On July 26 1636 he wrote in a letter to Father Fulgence Micanzio that only “my enemies managed to convince the Pope of my guilty intentions” (Aubanel 1929).

As a matter of fact Urban VIII had no reason to identify himself with character Simplicio. Simplicio was an Aristotelician/geocentrist while Urban was a heliocentrist/Keplerian. The only thing Simplicio and Urban VIII had in common was the belief that lunar phases had influenced on the tide movement, an idea that Galileo did ridicule. But everybody believed in that and for a good reason. It’s the truth. It’s just Galileo missing the point by a country mile.

Finally, the Pope granted Galileo a lot of privileges during the trial, reduced the sanctions after it and granted a golden yearly pension on his own pocket to Galileo and to his son.

The true proof of the movements of the Earth

Britain’s James Bradley had the honour to prove the validity of the heliocentric model, enabled for that by his study on light’s aberration. We are now in 1727. The Church accepted it without the slightest problem. By that time most universities in Europe had accepted it (as hypotheses) – the University of Leuven in 1670 – while the Jesuits in Rome and Jesuit missionaries were among the only ones in 1633.

The experimental proof of the earth’s rotation around its own axis was brought by France’s Leon Foucault and his gigantic 5kg pendulum above the Pantheon Dome in Paris. We are in 1851.

That tells us that we should beware of anachronism when he look at his history and should always place ourselves in the context and the situation of the time. It’s easy in 2015 to claim that Galileo was right, read right about the Sun being at immobile at the centre of the universe because he was actually wrong on so many other things. In 2015 we have all the evidence about it but in 1633, we did not. What the Church simply said was that there were no evidence for it in the contemporary state of knowledge. It never said that the Sun being at the centre was absolutely impossible. Their attitude was scientifically perfectly relevant. Galileo was on the other hand an obscurantist, obscured by his own conceit and selfishness. His desperate will to mark history and associate his name to a major discovery. The true geniuses of the 17th century were Kepler & Newton. Previous geniuses include Aristarchus of Samos, Regiomontanus or Nicolas Oresme but Galileo was none of that. The Church only made Galileo swallow his unbearable pride.
Gravitational waves detected! This is really big news, and another post-mortem triumph for Einstein. Sixty years after his death, his theories continue to be validated.

Just over a billion years ago, many millions of galaxies from here, a pair of black holes collided. They had been circling each other for aeons, in a sort of mating dance, gathering pace with each orbit, hurtling closer and closer. By the time they were a few hundred miles apart, they were whipping around at nearly the speed of light, releasing great shudders of gravitational energy. Space and time became distorted, like water at a rolling boil. In the fraction of a second that it took for the black holes to finally merge, they radiated a hundred times more energy than all the stars in the universe combined. They formed a new black hole, sixty-two times as heavy as our sun and almost as wide across as the state of Maine. As it smoothed itself out, assuming the shape of a slightly flattened sphere, a few last quivers of energy escaped. Then space and time became silent again.

The waves rippled outward in every direction, weakening as they went. On Earth, dinosaurs arose, evolved, and went extinct. The waves kept going. About fifty thousand years ago, they entered our own Milky Way galaxy, just as Homo sapiens were beginning to replace our Neanderthal cousins as the planet’s dominant species of ape. A hundred years ago, Albert Einstein, one of the more advanced members of the species, predicted the waves’ existence, inspiring decades of speculation and fruitless searching. Twenty-two years ago, construction began on an enormous detector, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Then, on September 14, 2015, at just before eleven in the morning, Central European Time, the waves reached Earth. Marco Drago, a thirty-two-year-old Italian postdoctoral student and a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, was the first person to notice them. He was sitting in front of his computer at the Albert Einstein Institute, in Hannover, Germany, viewing the LIGO data remotely. The waves appeared on his screen as a compressed squiggle, but the most exquisite ears in the universe, attuned to vibrations of less than a trillionth of an inch, would have heard what astronomers call a chirp—a faint whooping from low to high. This morning, in a press conference in Washington, D.C., the LIGO team announced that the signal constitutes the first direct observation of gravitational waves.

LIGO consists of two facilities, separated by nearly nineteen hundred miles—about a three-and-a-half-hour flight on a passenger jet, but a journey of less than ten ten-thousandths of a second for a gravitational wave. The detector in Livingston, Louisiana, sits on swampland east of Baton Rouge, surrounded by a commercial pine forest; the one in Hanford, Washington, is on the southwestern edge of the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States, amid desert sagebrush, tumbleweed, and decommissioned reactors. At both locations, a pair of concrete pipes some twelve feet tall stretch at right angles into the distance, so that from high above the facilities resemble carpenter’s squares. The pipes are so long—nearly two and a half miles—that they have to be raised from the ground by a yard at each end, to keep them lying flat as Earth curves beneath them.

LIGO is part of a larger effort to explore one of the more elusive implications of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The theory, put simply, states that space and time curve in the presence of mass, and that this curvature produces the effect known as gravity. When two black holes orbit each other, they stretch and squeeze space-time like children running in circles on a trampoline, creating vibrations that travel to the very edge; these vibrations are gravitational waves. They pass through us all the time, from sources across the universe, but because gravity is so much weaker than the other fundamental forces of nature—electromagnetism, for instance, or the interactions that bind an atom together—we never sense them.

Weiss’s detection method was…make the observatory “L”-shaped. Picture two people lying on the floor, their heads touching, their bodies forming a right angle. When a gravitational wave passes through them, one person will grow taller while the other shrinks; a moment later, the opposite will happen. As the wave expands space-time in one direction, it necessarily compresses it in the other. Weiss’s instrument would gauge the difference between these two fluctuating lengths, and it would do so on a gigantic scale, using miles of steel tubing. “I wasn’t going to be detecting anything on my tabletop,” he said.

To achieve the necessary precision of measurement, Weiss suggested using light as a ruler. He imagined putting a laser in the crook of the “L.” It would send a beam down the length of each tube, which a mirror at the other end would reflect back. The speed of light in a vacuum is constant, so as long as the tubes were cleared of air and other particles the beams would recombine at the crook in synchrony—unless a gravitational wave happened to pass through. In that case, the distance between the mirrors and the laser would change slightly. Since one beam would now be covering a shorter distance than its twin, they would no longer be in lockstep by the time they got back. The greater the mismatch, the stronger the wave. Such an instrument would need to be thousands of times more sensitive than any previous device, and it would require delicate tuning in order to extract a signal of vanishing weakness from the planet’s omnipresent din.

In 1990, after years of studies, reports, presentations, and committee meetings, Weiss, Thorne, and Drever persuaded the National Science Foundation to fund the construction of LIGO. The project would cost two hundred and seventy-two million dollars, more than any N.S.F.-backed experiment before or since. “That started a huge fight,” Weiss said. “The astronomers were dead-set against it, because they thought it was going to be the biggest waste of money that ever happened.”

… “It never should have been built,” Isaacson told me. “It was a couple of maniacs running around, with no signal ever having been discovered, talking about pushing vacuum technology and laser technology and materials technology and seismic isolation and feedback systems orders of magnitude beyond the current state of the art, using materials that hadn’t been invented yet.”

It took years to make the most sensitive instrument in history insensitive to everything that is not a gravitational wave. Emptying the tubes of air demanded forty days of pumping. The result was one of the purest vacuums ever created on Earth, a trillionth as dense as the atmosphere at sea level. Still, the sources of interference were almost beyond reckoning—the motion of the wind in Hanford, or of the ocean in Livingston; imperfections in the laser light as a result of fluctuations in the power grid; the jittering of individual atoms within the mirrors; distant lightning storms. All can obscure or be mistaken for a gravitational wave, and each source had to be eliminated or controlled for. One of LIGO’s systems responds to minuscule seismic tremors by activating a damping system that pushes on the mirrors with exactly the right counterforce to keep them steady; another monitors for disruptive sounds from passing cars, airplanes, or wolves.

The LIGO team includes a small group of people whose job is to create blind injections—bogus evidence of a gravitational wave—as a way of keeping the scientists on their toes. Although everyone knew who the four people in that group were, “we didn’t know what, when, or whether,” Gabriela González, the collaboration’s spokeswoman, said. During Initial LIGO’s final run, in 2010, the detectors picked up what appeared to be a strong signal. The scientists analyzed it intensively for six months, concluding that it was a gravitational wave from somewhere in the constellation of Canis Major. Just before they submitted their results for publication, however, they learned that the signal was a fake.

The September 14th detection, now officially known as GW150914, has already yielded a handful of significant astrophysical findings. To begin with, it represents the first observational evidence that black-hole pairs exist. Until now, they had existed only in theory, since by definition they swallow all light in their vicinity, rendering themselves invisible to conventional telescopes. Gravitational waves are the only information known to be capable of escaping a black hole’s crushing gravity.

The detection also proves that Einstein was right about yet another aspect of the physical universe. Although his theory deals with gravity, it has primarily been tested in our solar system, a place with a notably weak gravitational regime. “You think Earth’s gravity is really something when you’re climbing the stairs,” Weiss said. “But, as far as physics goes, it is a pipsqueak, infinitesimal, tiny little effect.” Near a black hole, however, gravity becomes the strongest force in the universe, capable of tearing atoms apart. Einstein predicted as much in 1916, and the LIGO results suggest that his equations align almost perfectly with real-world observation. “How could he have ever known this?” Weiss asked. “I would love to present him with the data that I saw that morning, to see his face.”

As it happens, the particular frequencies of the waves that LIGO can detect fall within the range of human hearing, between about thirty-five and two hundred and fifty hertz. The chirp was much too quiet to hear by the time it reached Earth, and LIGO was capable of capturing only two-tenths of a second of the black holes’ multibillion-year merger, but with some minimal audio processing the event sounds like a glissando. “Use the back of your fingers, the nails, and just run them along the piano from the lowest A up to middle C, and you’ve got the whole signal,” Weiss said.

Different celestial sources emit their own sorts of gravitational waves, which means that LIGO and its successors could end up hearing something like a cosmic orchestra. “The binary neutron stars are like the piccolos,” Reitze said. Isolated spinning pulsars, he added, might make a monochromatic “ding” like a triangle, and black holes would fill in the string section, running from double bass on up, depending on their mass. LIGO, he said, will only ever be able to detect violins and violas; waves from supermassive black holes, like the one at the center of the Milky Way, will have to await future detectors, with different sensitivities.
Thanks for the narrative, MI. As I was reading that, my first question was how do they account for infinitesimal disturbances such as weak seismic activity, which the narrative addressed.

Another topic that has raised my curiosity is quantum physics. Specifically, quantum entanglements between two particles that spin in unison in opposite directions, even when the particles are separated by many miles. This discovery has in some way been used to support the idea of alternate universes. Anyway, google quantum physics for dummies and you can find information on this ( is one example). It starts off with describing what a quantum leap is, particle waves, before finally getting into entanglements about half way through the video. Hats off to you if you can tolerate London Girl's narrative.
Jul 5, 2009
on3m@n@rmy said:
Thanks for the narrative, MI. As I was reading that, my first question was how do they account for infinitesimal disturbances such as weak seismic activity, which the narrative addressed.

Another topic that has raised my curiosity is quantum physics. Specifically, quantum entanglements between two particles that spin in unison in opposite directions, even when the particles are separated by many miles. This discovery has in some way been used to support the idea of alternate universes. Anyway, google quantum physics for dummies and you can find information on this ( is one example). It starts off with describing what a quantum leap is, particle waves, before finally getting into entanglements about half way through the video. Hats off to you if you can tolerate London Girl's narrative.

The interesting, unresolved question about entanglement is whether there's a hidden local variable so that they know ahead of time which quantum state they'll achieve when measured or whether they exchange information at or greater than the speed of light at the point of measurement. And if so, how? Reading about Bell's inequality is both accessible and really neat. Just avoid Wikipedia for anything physics/math. After a brief intro, every article goes into the deep end. It's only good as a reference and not a place to learn - not even for a physicist.

John Swanson
The idea of a hidden variable crossed my mind when considering the affect of measuring subatomic particles (e.g photons or electrons), which has caused their states to become more predictable. It's almost as if the particles can detect when they are being watched (measured) and start behaving normally when they sense that, almost like the toys in the movie "Toy Story". The notion of particles being able to think is OFC silly, but it paints a picture to me of what happens. Why it happens is the interesting part.

And at this point the notion of alternate universes is really kind of out there.

But not out there, and to my understanding already being applied in everyday devices like cell phones, is the transfer of data using quantum mechanics. I can see where this would be possible in any kind of computing device, but do not know for sure if principles of quantum mechanics has been successfully applied. If it has, the technology might be considered secret or proprietary, at least until it is able to be copied or reproduced.
Aug 4, 2011


I used to use my telescope most evenings [ son broke the stand get a new one when I can find the time]
I remember seeing Saturn and its rings . Blew me away to see it for real and then Jupiter and its moons just incredible. I remember thinking how tiny earth is compared to Jupiter.

Nebulas are just awesome as well. Horseshoe looks stunning . I love this Sh%t.
Apr 16, 2016
ray j willings said:
Starstruck said:
ray j willings said:
I believe in UFO's There is just so much evidence, check this case for instance in Belgium. You cannot dispute it.
And there is quite a few more as well.

I believe the more abstract we become the more alien we are. Wrap your head around that dude.

Sounds like a quote from Salvador Dali or Geiger

Any thoughts on what infinite density means?