My Grand Mother and Galileo
This is a somewhat unusual post when compared to my usual ones. In fact, today my Grand Mother Vittoria turns 100! She was born in Buia (Italy) on December 3rd, 1909. One hundred years ago, almost exactly 300 years after the Galilean Nights. She has seen two world wars, experienced invasion, bombing, forced emigration, destitution and earthquakes. Hundred years are a lot and almost nothing in the same time. In 1909 the construction of Titanic was started, Herman Minkowski died, Guglielmo Marconi got the Nobel Prize, Rita Levi Montalcini (Nobel Prize in 1986) was born, Louis Bleriot was the first man to fly across the English Channel…
I am not sure what happened in 1909 in connection to the 300th anniversary of the Galilean astronomical discoveries. What I found on the Internet is a reference to two publications: Muller, Der Galilei Process (Fribourg, 1909), and Muller, Galileo Galilei, und das Kopernikanische Weltsystem (Fribourg, 1909), but it is not clear to me whether these works were published to celebrate that recurrence. By that time the largest telescope in the world was the 60 inch Hale Telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory, which saw the first light on December 8th, 1908. Many telescopes, larger and larger, have been built in these hundred years, and our vision of the physical world has changed quite a bit. At that time the nature of the spiral nebulae was not yet clarified, quasars were not known and the Sun was supposed to be sustained by radioactive decay… And this was “only” hundred years ago. A short step for mankind, but still a very long one for a human being
Happy Birthday Grandma!.