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What we can learn from Galileo | Editorial

January 16, 2013 · Updated 9:40 AM

History. It’s the map that those of us – still filled with optimism – use as a guide, a resource, a reference to navigate through the present and the future.

These stories of the past, of great minds who imagined, invented and often suffered for progress, propelled humanity to a greater understanding of our place, not only on this tiny blue dot, but in the universe. It was these great minds who looked into the night sky and had to know more about the vastness, the darkness and all those tantalizing sparking lights.

Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher Galileo Galilei played a major role in what we now consider modern science. He invented the telescope, which led to the discovery of the four satellites of Jupiter, observation of a supernova, the phases of Venus and discovery of sunspots. His discoveries proved that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun. Galileo was found guilty of heresy for that profound information.

But that was more than 400 years ago. What can we take from his life? Advancement of science? An understanding of physics? Can we understand what it cost Galileo to pursue such inquiries? Do we even care?

Can we bring not only his discoveries, but his triumph, his complexities and pain to life in way that not only teaches us, but makes us feel a connection to a man long since deceased?

It just may be possible in the Orcas Center’s upcoming play “The Life of Galileo,” which follows his rise to greatness and how the church eventually condemned his teachings.

Theater has the ability to transform stories, to bring ghosts to life. It allows us to engage with information in a way that may help us learn something from the past. So often in our society we fail to bridge knowledge and entertainment. How easily we resort to watching reality TV or news feeds with little imagination. What a world we could live in if we could spark inspiration in others through a medium that tugs at our heart strings and gives us insight – a better understanding of science and if we are lucky, humanity.

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