A Revolution With No Rewind: Galileo’s Daughter and How the Patron Saint of Astronomy Reconciled Science and Spirituality

Galileo’s daughter was born on this day in 1600. Although she spent her life as a devout nun, her relationship with her father as instrumental in Galileo’s revolutionary scientific work – it’s a fascinating story:

“To the modern mind, so bedeviled by binaries, such a simultaneity of conflicting convictions seems almost incomprehensible — which is why the quantum notion of complementarity can be so challenging to wrap one’s head around. And yet this disposition was the key to Galileo’s relationship with his daughter and, as Sobel suggests, to the very quality of character from which his cataclysmic contribution to science sprang. She writes:

[Their] letters, which have never been published in translation, recast Galileo’s story. They recolor the personality and conflict of a mythic figure, whose seventeenth-century clash with Catholic doctrine continues to define the schism between science and religion. For although science has soared beyond his quaint instruments, it is still caught in his struggle, still burdened by an impression of Galileo as a renegade who scoffed at the Bible and drew fire from a Church blind to reason.”

Dava Sobel