There Are No Words Powerful Enough to Express the Importance of Basic Scientific Research

Galileo Galilei letter to the Tuscan court of March 1610.
"In order to maintain and increase the renown of these discoveries, it appears to me necessary to have the truth seen and recognized, by means of the effect itself, by as many people as possible."

 Jim & Rhoda Morris       of     Contact us at    or   781 245 2897
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  06/14/2007 10:04 AM
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A very brief list of some of the items that come up in Galileo's story that are good examples should should be included in a study plan that shows  how Science works.

  • One can experience a shoulder to shoulder connection with  Galileo sharing his excitement and frustration of discovery with one of the many prototypes of his telescope with all their ups and downs in design issues.
  • Using the instruments; When observing through it one shares  Galileo's frustration with the small field of view, its dancing images growing and shrinking as one is looking through the instrument. 
  • Miss understanding about science: There is the  possibility that some critics of Galileo's work  when peeking through Galileo's telescope never saw what Galileo was seeing  and came away with the belief that he was seeing things that were not real.  
  • The excitement of science; This insight is coupled with an appreciation for the  excitement Galileo experienced seeing what no one had ever seen before,  hundreds of  new stars and  details of the the moon the planets which would challenge the imagination and the interpretative skills of the best of any basic research scientist.

  • How Galileo's reported his discoveries gives us a glimpses of how scientist report their work and how it has change with time. After they make their  measurements in Time, Length, and Mass, they analyze and interpret the data and  prepare a  report of the results which is their product not the instrument which they used to get their measurements.  In1610 it would be in the form of a book. Today it is refereed and published in a journal or on the web where the community referees the results of the work.

  • What the day by day job is like; Galileo was under terrific pressure with time to make the    measurements  needed to interpret the  images he was seeing.   The all important product that all scientist demand from each other through their work, accurate measurements that can be reproduced.

  • Competition; Others had their telescopes but not with the high power that Galileo had achieved but still others were getting there fast.  He needed data for lens combinations to design his telescope and in the process of discoveries he had created an instrument he called a   micrometer which he measured the power of his telescopes and relative distances and motion of the moons about Jupiter. He was  desperately  racing others  to be the first to publish what he saw with his interpretations of those images.

      Lets expand just one of the examples above to demonstrate the details that  scientist have to work through  to carry out their research. What is it like to look through Galileo's telescope. 

    • First lets use words alone.

    • Second  come back  and click here  to see a still photo of of what its like to look through his telescope.

    • Third use a faithful replica and learn through the full experience.


    note work in progress  06/14/2007 10:04 AM

    (note  along with the photo there is little bit of the science explaining the process of  seeing.  the science of the mathematics of optics in  or the science of marketing why did Galileo chose the negative  rather than a positive lens for the eyepiece with it greater field of view.  which we believe to have been a marketing issue.  etc. etc. etc........ . so look again at the first photo on this site to see all these issue being discussed while peering through The very precise replica of one of Galileo's telescope and realizing what

    Click here for a picture and short technical discussion and demonstration of what it is like to look through  Galileo's telescope.

  • First you are shocked.   There is nothing to see in the telescope. Its all black inside but slowly your eye begins to adapt to the lack of light and you find yourself in a dark tunnel with a tiny opening  appearing  off  in the distance. Your natural reaction is to  start fiddling with the focus hoping that this will produce the image you are  so eager to see. More seconds go by.  Your eyes slowly begin to  accommodate the darkness and the  little spot of light similar to the exit of a tunnel begins to appear and grow in size. You make more adjustment to the eyepiece and start rocking you head back and forth which jiggles  the telescope making the image jump in and out of the field of view. Finally  and slowly an image begins to form in that tiny  dot of light. As you watch the image grows in detail. You continue  rock your head adjusting the focus a little more. Finally with a lot of concentration  the image finally begins to fill the tube and gives you something to look at. 
  • The  second thing you are shocked by is the smallness of  field of view.  It is only about  15 minutes of arc.  What Ms Nichols sees is  is just the cab part of a large crane sitting on the top of a building one mile away.
  • The third thing how very difficult it is to bring  the object  you're looking for into the field of view with 16 power and a substantial  difference between the dynamic and static friction of the bearings in the mount holding the telescope, if you have a mount at all. is how much the image jumps around.
  • The forth thing is how  hard it is to focus.



    Going through the Galileo experiences with a precise replica, both inside and out, of his  telescope, estimating the height of the mountains on the moon by their shadows , counting the number of stars he sees with and with out his telescope, noticing the fine detail of tiny stars in a line passing through Jupiter, logging them in a quantitative manner,  and returning to study their position evening after evening,  deducing that they are moons of Jupiter shows the observation skills of a genius. Instead of working with just improving the telescope he dedicated what little time he had to observation work.  He rushed to recorded interpreted and published before someone else beats him to the discoveries demonstrating his fine  sense of priory and organizational skills that all good scientist use to do their work.

    Repeat his experiments with the resources he used, you will  gain a rare intellectual and emotional  sense about what drives a scientist to be first and to be right.  This is an important  part of the business of science, that some of  the popular literature overlook.

    There is much to be learned and  taught using carefully constructed replicas. Pure speculation many times is reduced to fact  with a precise replica in hand. It brings the opportunity of reconstructing Galileo's experiments in a scientific setting and reduces the dateless  conjectures to a minimum.

    Hands on observation with faithfully produced replicas more clearly focus us on to the business of science bringing us more clarity to the needs of science than using words alone can do. Yes It's very important for us to understand the business of science not just a topic within  science. Simply put there are No Words Powerful Enough to Express the Importance of Basic Scientific Research! to everyone, everything, all the time!