Friday, June 11, 2010

Science Relics

Galileo Lost Tooth, Fingers Go On Show In Florence

The tooth, finger and thumb (recently found by an art collector) along with another finger and a vertebrae, were cut from Galileo's corpse by scientists and historians during a burial ceremony 95 years after his death in 1642.

The remains, along with two telescopes, a compass and a wealth of other instruments designed by Galileo, are the main attraction at the Galileo Museum beginning today.

Fascinating in a macabre way.


Z said...
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Z said...

Anybody still have Van Gogh's EAR? :-)
I was REAL happy the article didn't show a picture of Galileo's.....finger (ick!)

cube said...

Good question. Personally, I don't think the prostitute he gave it to proceeded to follow his wishes and guard it, but who knows? There's so much speculation about Van Gogh's whole life that I think this is one of those mysteries of history that will never be known.

RE: Galileo's remnants, I was hoping they would include a photo. It's not like I'm zipping to Florence any time soon to see the originals.

Brooke said...

I will never understand the urge to keep 'relics' from a dead man. It's Ferengi-ish, DS9-style.

You know what I mean, Cube? ;)

And while I'm on scifi, did you see the new Dr. Who episode with Van Gogh as a character? AWESOME.

cube said...

Brooke: I know exactly what you mean about the Ferengi. They were just into selling parts for profit. Ridiculous notion. I mean, who is going to sit around saying, "Ooo, ooo, I can't wait for my piece of Grand Nagus to arrive".

The idea of preserving relics has been around for many centuries and is all about homage of the individual whether in religion or in the sciences. It's as though they want to preserve a part of the person here on Earth.

Catholicism is rife with such examples.

Funny that it took 95 years after his death for the relics to be taken... the same time it took the Catholic church to come around to allowing him to be buried in consecrated ground.

RE: the new Who, I have not seen it. I'm one of those who still misses the old Who :-(

Teresa said...

This seems like it is a gruesome display. Showing peoples body parts after they die? It seems a little like corporal sicko worship to me. Weird.

Ananda girl said...

Gee... I can't imagine anyone keeping any of my parts when I'm gone. But then, I'm no Galileo.

cube said...

Teresa: The Catholic church is full of examples of such practices over the centuries,
e.g., the head of St. Thomas Aquinas was removed by the monks at the Cistercian abbey at Fossanova where he died.

I guess my Catholic upbringing and my science/medical background have inured me to such practices.

I mean, it is a little macabre, but not so much so that I wouldn't want to see it. Sort of like the exhibit of bodies that was making the rounds at science museums around the country. I thought that was educational.

cube said...

Ananda Girl: You hit the nail on the head. Nobody is talking about keeping parts of you unless you are a supremely revered person. I seriously doubt whether anyone would want to keep a part of me either, but, hey, we're not done yet. Keep hope alive ;-)

birdwoman said...

why did they have a burial ceremony 100 years after they killed him?


Chuck said...

The telescopes would be cool but...

cube said...

birdwoman: Because even though Galileo recanted his views to avoid execution, upon his death, the Catholic church did not allow his body to be buried in consecrated ground.

I don't know why, but it took 95 years for the church to come around and admit their mistake.
Galileo's body was exumed and it was then that the relics were taken and then the body was reburied in Florence's Santa Croce church, opposite the tomb of Michelangelo.

cube said...

Chuck: I'm surprised to hear from you! Hope the heat isn't too bad.

And yes, the telescopes et al would be super cool too.

commoncents said...

Awesome post! Keep up the great work!!

Common Cents

ps. Link Exchange???

birdwoman said...

re: your explanation
um... ewwww I wish I didn't know that. Take it out of my memory, please.