Did Galileo really say, "And yet it moves"? A modern detective story (2023)

"However, it moves." This may be the most famous line attributed to the renowned scientist.Galileo Galilei🇧🇷 The "it" in the quote refers to Earth. "It Moves" was a startling denial of the notion, held by the Catholic Church at the time, that the Earth was at the center of the universe and therefore stopped. Galileo was convinced that the model was wrong. Although he could not prove it, his astronomical observations and his experiments in mechanics led him to conclude thatThe Earth and the other planets revolved around the sun..

This brings us to the "and yet". As much as Galileo hoped to convince the Church that, in moving the Earth from its anointed position, he was not contradicting Scripture, he did not fully realize that Church officials could not accept what they saw as his insolent invasion of their exclusive domain. : theology. 🇧🇷

During his trial on suspicion of heresy, Galileo chose his words carefully. It was only after the trial, no doubt angered by his condemnation, that he is said to have muttered to the inquisitors: "However, he moves"("However, it moves)",as if they are saying that they may have won this battle, but in the end the truth would win.

But did Galileo really utter those famous words? There is no doubt thatthoughtBetween these lines.His bitterness during the trial.🇧🇷 the fact that he was forced to resign and recant his life's work; the humbling reality that his bookDialogue on the two major world systemsit had been listed on the Church's Index of Prohibited Books; and his deep contempt for the inquisitors who tried him continually occupied his mind during all the years following the trial. We can also be sure that he did.not(according to legend) mutter this phrase in front of the inquisitors. Doing so would have been incredibly risky. But did he say that? If not, when and how did the myth of this motto begin to circulate?

(Video) Galileo and Why He was Really Convicted of Heresy

Science historian Antonio Favaro dedicated four decades to the study and contextualization of Galileo's life and work, finally producing the monumental bookThe works of Galileo Galilei(The works of Galileo Galilei).As part of this Herculean effort, in 1911 he also published some papers describing his extensive research devoted to discovering the origins of the motto. Favaro determined that the first printed mention of the phrase was in a book entitledat the Italian library,published in London in 1757 by the Italian author Giuseppe Baretti.

Baretti colorfully wrote: “This is the famousGalileo,who was in the inquisition for six years, and tortured, for saying, thatthe earth moved.The moment he was released, he looked up at the sky and the ground and, stamping his foot, in a contemplative frame of mind, said:However, he moves;to mean,still moves,that is, the earth."

Even if we disregard the non-historical embellishments of this account, it would be difficult to accept the testimony of a book that appeared more than a century after Galileo's death as evidence of the quotation's accuracy. Favaro was equally skeptical at first, until an unexpected event caused him to reconsider.

an intriguing painting

In 1911, Favaro received a letter from a certain Jules Van Belle, who lived in Roeselare, Belgium. Van Belle claimed to own a painting that had been painted in 1643 or 1645 that contained the famous motto. If true, this statement would mean that the phrase was already very little known after Galileo's death in 1642.

The painting, of which Favaro only saw a photograph, showed Galileo in prison. He held a nail in his right hand, with which he had apparently traced the Earth moving around the sun on the wall with the words "E pur si move”written below.

Based on an unclear signature, Van Belle attributed the painting to 17th-century Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. And he speculated that it originally belonged to Spanish army commander Ottavio Piccolomini, brother of the Archbishop of Siena, in whose home Galileo served the first six months of his house arrest.

(Video) The Trial of Galileo: What Really Happened?

Favaro went public with this story of the alleged discovery of a 17th-century portrait of Galileo bearing the famous motto, and the story made the pages of several newspapers. Belgian physicist Eugene Lagrange went to Roeselare to see the painting with his own eyes, which he reported in the Belgian newspaper.the belgian staron January 13, 1912.

The discovery of painting definitely had an impact. Until then, most historians considered the famous phrase a myth, but the new discovery has made several Galileo scholars change their minds. Historian of science John Joseph Fahie wrote in 1929: "We must revise our judgments and conclude that GalileoThatSay these words, however, not in the hideous chamber of the Inquisition, as the fable has it, but to some sympathetic friend outside, from one from whom, no doubt, Piccolomini obtained them. Renowned Galileo scholar Stillman Drake also concluded: "In any case, there is now no doubt that the famous words were attributed to Galileo before his death, not invented a century later simply to suit his character."

Interestingly, despite its great value to the history of science, Van Belle's painting has never been the subject of any independent peer review. When I wanted to initiate this scrutiny, I was surprised to find that not only was the current location of the painting unknown, but, as far as I could initially determine, no historian of science or art had discovered it.seenafter 1912. Naturally, I decided to look for him.

The hunt

First, he wanted to get an expert opinion on Murillo's assignment. To that end, I sent a copy of the photograph of the painting to four Murillo specialists (two in Spain, one in the United Kingdom and one in the United States). All independently responded that, while it is difficult to give conclusive opinions from a photograph, when considering the style, subject and relevant historical facts, they were fairly convinced that Murillo did not paint this portrait. One said the painter was probably not Spanish, and another suggested the painting was from the 19th century.

Motivated to continue investigating these unanimous and unexpected judgments, I found thatan article about paintingappeared simultaneously in two Belgian newspapers (of marketyEl Poperinghenaar) on February 23, 1936. The report stated that an important portrait of Galileo had been displayed at the Vleeshuis Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.

An investigation into the Vleeshuis revealed that on September 13, 1933, Van Belle had lent him a painting entitledGalileo in prison🇧🇷 The loan (under the titleGalileo and his "And it still moves") noAntwerp Gazetteon September 15, 1933. Further investigation uncovered the startling fact that the Stedelijk Museum Sint-Niklaas (SteM Sint-Niklaas) in Belgium has in its collection a painting which appears to be identical to the one lent to the Vleeshuis. Furthermore, close inspection of the wall facing Galileo in this painting revealed a drawing of the Earth revolving around the Sun, some other drawings (possibly of Saturn or the phases of Venus), and the famous motto. This portrait is documented to have been painted in 1837 by the Flemish painter Romaan-Eugeen Van Maldeghem. It was donated to the city of Sint-Niklaas by art collector Lodewijk Verstraeten. And the museum succeeded after his wife's death in 1904 or 1905.

(Video) Episode #165- What Was The Galileo Affair? (Part III)

Did Galileo really say, "And yet it moves"? A modern detective story (1)

This development has created a very interesting situation. There were two virtually identical paintings. One, owned by Van Belle, would have been painted in 1643 or 1645. The other, by Van Maldeghem, was painted in 1837. The Van Belle painting made its first documented public appearance in 1911. It was loaned to the Vleeshuis in 1933. it was exhibited there in 1936. Since then, its whereabouts are unknown. The second painting has been in the SteM Sint-Niklaas collection since 1904 or 1905. The extreme similarity of the two paintings left no doubt that Van Maldeghem copied an earlier painting or that someone else copied Van Maldeghem's painting, either in the 19th or early 19th century. . 20th century.

To complicate matters further, I discovered that in 2000 Antwerp's Bernaerts Auctioneers bid on a painting entitledGalileo in prison🇧🇷 It is listed as having been painted by the Flemish painter Henrij Gregoir in 1837, the same year that Van Maldeghem painted his portrait of Galileo with the same title. Fortunately, I managed to get a photograph of the painting, and although the title is the same, the artwork is very different.


To go further, I tried to get more information about Van Maldeghem and his painting. Two Flemish books on the lives and works of Flemish and Dutch artists are listed, one by J. Immerzeel, Jr., from 1842 and another by Christiaan Kramm from 1859.Galileo in prisonas one of Van Maldeghem's original paintings, with no hint or suggestion that it may have been a copy. Significantly, these two books were published while Van Maldeghem was still alive, when all information about the painting was still available. It was therefore difficult to avoid the impression that his painting was the original after all. This feeling was reinforced by the perception that the theme of Galileo's conflict with the Inquisition became quite popular among painters only in the 19th century. And it was also fully consistent with the views expressed earlier by Murillo's experts. Remember that one suggested that the painter was not Spanish and another judged that the painting was from the 19th century.

All this, however, still did not explain what happened to the Van Belle painting after 1936. Three main possibilities occurred to me: The painting could have been sold by Jules Van Belle himself. Or it may have been inherited by a relative (and perhaps later sold). Or it could have been destroyed during World War II. Following that line of thought, I decided to try some genealogy research.

Long story short, with a lot of effort, considerable help, and a little bit of luck, I managed to find a living great-grandchild of Van Belle's niece. And through him, I found out that in 2007 his grandmother sold a collection of paintings through the Campo & Campo gallery and auction house in Antwerp. Lot number 213 on the list was titledGalileo in prison🇧🇷 The auction house photograph shows it to be the same painting I was looking for. I rediscovered Van Belle's painting!

Did Galileo really say, "And yet it moves"? A modern detective story (2)

Common practice in the art world prevents auction houses from revealing the identity of buyers, but I found that the painting was purchased by a private collector and not a dealer. Two other notable pieces of information were revealed at the auction. First, Campo & Campo considered the painting to be from the 19th century. Second, close inspection found no date or signature. This observation was confirmed by a representative of the auction house.

(Video) Episode #163- What Was The Galileo Affair? (Part I)

So what can we say about the question of whether Galileo said these famous words? Historical evidence points to the story first appearing (or at least being documented) only in the mid-18th century, long after Galileo's death. This makes the motto much more likely to be apocryphal. However, it would be exciting if (perhaps as a result of this article) the current owner of theGalileo in prisonwill allow you to be examined thoroughly to determine your exact age.

Even if Galileo never uttered these words, they have some relevance to our current troubled times, when even verifiable facts are being attacked by science deniers. Galileo's legendary puzzle: "despite what you believe, these are the facts" becomes more important than ever.

Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Did Galileo really say, "And yet it moves"? A modern detective story (3)

    Mario Livio is an astrophysicist and author. Your most recent book isGalileo: and the science deniers.Crédito: Nick Higgins

    (Video) "The Problem with Galileo" from Bible Contexts

    Recent articles by Mario Livio

    • Winston Churchill's Thoughts on Evolution
    • Einstein's famous "Letter from God" goes up for auction
    • Do we need more Renaissanceers?


    Did Galileo truly say And yet it moves a modern detective story? ›

    During his trial for suspicion of heresy, Galileo chose his words carefully. It was only after the trial, angered by his conviction no doubt, that he was said to have muttered to the inquisitors, “Eppur si muove”(“And yet it moves)”, as if to say that they may have won this battle, but in the end, truth would win out.

    What is the famous quote from Galileo? ›

    21 valuable quotes by Galileo Galilei
    • "Curiosity is the key to problem solving."
    • "Two truths cannot contradict one another."
    • "Nature is relentless and unchangeable, and it is indifferent as to whether its hidden reasons and actions are understandable to man or not."
    Jun 7, 2021

    What are 3 observations of Galileo about his experiment? ›

    Galileo's observations were : The craters on the moon. The four moons of Jupiter. The black patches on the Sun.

    Why do we say that Galileo invented the modern view of science? ›

    Galileo Galilei pioneered the experimental scientific method and was the first to use a refracting telescope to make important astronomical discoveries. He is often referred to as the “father of modern astronomy” and the “father of modern physics”. Albert Einstein called Galileo the “father of modern science.”

    How accurate was Galileo? ›

    The Galileo system has a greater accuracy than GPS, having an accuracy of less than 1 m when using broadcast ephemeris (GPS: 3 m) and a signal-in-space ranging error (SISRE) of 1.6 cm (GPS: 2.3 cm, GLONASS and BeiDou: 4–6 cm) when using real-time corrections for satellite orbits and clocks.

    What question did Galileo ask? ›

    Galileo tried to measure the speed of light by attempting to measure how long it took light to go from one mountain top to another and back again.

    What were the last words of Galileo? ›

    Galileo died in 1642 and was buried at church of Santa Croce (Florence) next to Michaelangelo & Machiavelli. The epitaph he had placed on his tombstone was "eppur Si muove" or "But the Earth does move!" Galileo had the last word after all !

    What is an inspirational Galileo quote? ›

    You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” “In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”

    What was Galileo's truth? ›

    In his later years Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei insisted on the truth of the geocentric system, said UCLA professor Henry Kelly. Today virtually every child grows up learning that the earth orbits the sun.

    What are Galileo's 4 most important observations? ›

    Galileo sparked the birth of modern astronomy with his observations of the Moon, phases of Venus, moons around Jupiter, sunspots, and the news that seemingly countless individual stars make up the Milky Way Galaxy.

    What was the result of Galileo's experiment? ›

    One result of the experiment surprised Galileo, and one surprises us. Galileo found that the heavy ball hit the ground first, but only by a little bit. Except for a small difference caused by air resistance, both balls reached nearly the same speed. And that surprised him.

    Did Galileo have a little influence on modern science? ›

    Galileo influenced scientists for decades to come, not least in his willingness to stand up to the church to defend his findings. His improvements to the telescope led to advances in the field of astronomy. Sir Isaac Newton later expanded on Galileo's work when coming up with his own theories.

    How did Galileo change the view of the universe? ›

    The discoveries that Galileo made using his telescopes helped to prove that Sun was the centre of the Solar System and not the Earth. His observations strongly supported a Sun-centred model known as the Heliocentric model, previously suggested by astronomers like Nicolaus Copernicus.

    Who was responsible for the birth of modern science? ›

    While science is generally thought to have begun with Aristotle and Hippocrates, it is Galileo Galilei who is considered modern science's father and Sir Isaac Newton who completely revolutionized the methodology.

    Who proved Galileo correct? ›

    At a ceremony in Rome, before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II officially declared that Galileo was right. The formal rehabilitation was based on the findings of a committee of the Academy the Pope set up in 1979, soon after taking office.

    When was Galileo's theory proven correct? ›

    When the latest investigation, conducted by a panel of scientists, theologians and historians, made a preliminary report in 1984, it said that Galileo had been wrongfully condemned.

    When was Galileo's theory proven? ›

    In 1610 Galileo Galilei observed with his telescope that Venus showed phases, despite remaining near the Sun in Earth's sky (first image). This proved that it orbits the Sun and not Earth, as predicted by Copernicus's heliocentric model and disproved the then conventional geocentric model (second image).

    What did Galileo do that helped to answer his questions? ›

    He built a telescope to help him study the sky. Galileo first discovered that the Moon had mountains just like Earth. He also discovered 4 of Jupiter's moons. Using his telescope, Galileo made many observations of our Solar System.

    What did Galileo apologize for? ›

    Church officials compared the apology to the late Pope John Paul II" decision to say sorry for the Vatican" 1633 trial of Galileo, the astronomer who appalled prelates by declaring that the earth revolved around the sun.

    What was Galileo's biggest discovery? ›

    Of all of his telescope discoveries, he is perhaps most known for his discovery of the four most massive moons of Jupiter, now known as the Galilean moons: Io, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.

    Did Galileo prove that Earth moves? ›

    In his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems Galileo managed to show that the movement of the earth is possible, but he did not succeed in showing that it was necessary. What were the main claims of the astronomers and natural philosophers (physicists) who supported the geocentric theory?

    What did Galileo's letter say? ›

    The story begins in 1613, when Galileo wrote a famous letter defending the heliocentric model of the solar system, according to which the Earth and other planets rotate around the Sun.

    What is the most inspiring quote in the world? ›

    What is the most inspiring quote ever?
    • “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius.
    • “Magic is believing in yourself. ...
    • “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney.
    • “The real test is not whether you avoid this failure…
    Aug 19, 2021

    What is the argument of Galileo? ›

    The Italian astronomer argued that Earth and other planets revolve around the sun. Then he paid a price. The Italian astronomer argued that Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.

    What theory did Galileo prove right? ›

    Galileo discovered evidence to support Copernicus' heliocentric theory when he observed four moons in orbit around Jupiter. Beginning on January 7, 1610, he mapped nightly the position of the 4 “Medicean stars” (later renamed the Galilean moons).

    What planet did Galileo think was 3 planets? ›

    In 1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was the first to gaze at Saturn through a telescope. To his surprise, he saw a pair of objects on either side of the planet. He sketched them as separate spheres and wrote that Saturn appeared to be triple-bodied.

    What was Galileo's greatest achievement? ›

    Galileo Galilei's greatest achievement was his use of a telescope to examine the sky. Galileo developed his own version of a telescope from models he learned about and was able to increase the magnification to around 30x.

    What 2 things did Galileo invent? ›

    His inventions, from compasses and balances to improved telescopes and microscopes, revolutionized astronomy and biology. Galilleo discovered craters and mountains on the moon, the phases of Venus, Jupiter's moons and the stars of the Milky Way.

    What did Galileo invent and why was this so important? ›

    The invention of the telescope played an important role in advancing our understanding of Earth's place in the cosmos. While there is evidence that the principles of telescopes were known in the late 16th century, the first telescopes were created in the Netherlands in 1608.

    What is the conclusion of Galileo's experiment? ›

    Galileo's conclusion from this thought experiment was that no force is needed to keep an object moving with constant velocity. Newton took this as his first law of motion.

    Is Galileo's theory of gravity correct? ›

    A French satellite experiment has shown that objects with different masses fall at exactly the same rate under gravity, just as relativity dictates. The result is the most precise confirmation yet of the equivalence principle, first tested more than 400 years ago by Galileo Galilei.

    What is the conclusion of Galileo? ›

    Galileo showed that force causes acceleration. On the basis of the law of parabolic fall, Galileo reached the conclusion that bodies fall on the surface of the earth at a constant acceleration, and that the force of gravity which causes all bodies to move downward is a constant force.

    What do you think Galileo's greatest legacy for modern scientists was? ›

    Galileo's discoveries provided observational proof of the Copernican system: that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun. Prior to Galileo's time, it was held that the universe was geocentric, meaning the sun revolved around the Earth.

    Why is Galileo considered the father of modern physics? ›

    Galileo is known as the father of modern physics because he was the initiator of practical scientific techniques. In this case, Galileo was concerned with empirical verification of aspects. Also, Galileo was the pioneer user of refracting telescopes in the development of significant astronomical inventions.

    What are three scientific values demonstrated by Galileo in his struggles for the scientific truth to come out during this conflict? ›

    Galileo demonstrated three scientific values during this conflict. These values were: 1) the pursuit of scientific truth; 2) the importance of evidence; and 3) the need for freedom of thought. Galileo also demonstrated three disadvantages of non-separation of church and state during this conflict.

    How did Galileo impact the world today? ›

    He is renowned for his discoveries: he was the first to report telescopic observations of the mountains on the moon, the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and the rings of Saturn. He invented an early microscope and a predecessor to the thermometer.

    Who was the first real scientist of modern times? ›

    Aristotle is considered by many to be the first scientist, although the term postdates him by more than two millennia. In Greece in the fourth century BC, he pioneered the techniques of logic, observation, inquiry and demonstration.

    Who is the first truly modern scientist? ›

    Ask students what they know about Galileo Galilei. Where and when did he live? (In Italy during the 16th and 17th centuries.) What did he do? (He was considered the first truly modern scientist because of his systematic observation of the real world; his main contributions were in the fields of physics and astronomy.)

    What false doctrine did Galileo hold as true? ›

    With the loss of many of his defenders in Rome because of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, in 1633 Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy "for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the sun is the center of the world" against the 1616 condemnation, since "it was ...

    What was Galileo's new truth? ›

    Using a handmade telescope in January 1610, Galileo confirmed the Copernican theory that the planets moved around the sun; the Earth was not the center of the solar system.

    What is true about Galileo's view about motion? ›

    Galileo, using an Archimedean model of floating bodies, and later the balance, argues that there is only one principle of motion—heaviness. Bodies move upward not because they have a natural lightness, he says, but because they are displaced or extruded by other heavier bodies moving downward.

    What theory did Galileo disprove? ›

    Instead, Galileo disproved the Ptolemaic theory, sanctioned for centuries by the Church, which held the Earth to be the central and principal object in the universe, about which all celestial objects orbited.

    What did Galileo say about the Bible and science? ›

    Although Galileo argues that one should not begin with biblical passages in order to discover truths about nature, he does think that the Bible contains scientific truths and that it is the function of wise interpreters to discover these truths.

    What was Galileo's main idea? ›

    He realised that the only way the planet could have phases was if it orbited the Sun, as the Sun's light had to reflect off it while it was at different points in its orbit, giving it phases.

    What was Galileo's main philosophy? ›

    His renowned conflict with the Catholic Church was central to his philosophy, for Galileo was one of the first to argue that man could hope to understand how the world works, and, moreover, that we could do this by observing the real world.

    How did Galileo impact the modern world? ›

    His inventions, from compasses and balances to improved telescopes and microscopes, revolutionized astronomy and biology. Galilleo discovered craters and mountains on the moon, the phases of Venus, Jupiter's moons and the stars of the Milky Way.

    Did Galileo prove the Earth was in motion? ›

    Galileo supported the theory of Nicholas Copernicus that held that the Earth was moving around the Sun, but he lacked direct evidence of Earth's motion.

    Did Galileo determine laws of motion? ›

    Before Galileo it had been thought that all horizontal motion required a direct cause, but Galileo deduced from his experiments that a body in motion would remain in motion unless a force (such as friction) caused it to come to rest. This law is also the first of Isaac Newton's three laws of motion.


    1. Copernicus, Galileo, and the Catholic Church
    (Origins OSU)
    2. The West Wing - Galileo V
    4. Preparing For The Inevitable Impact of AI on Education | Galileo Global Education | HeroX
    5. Trial of Galileo ("More Than Words" Parody) - @MrBettsClass
    6. What really happened to Galileo? (Bad Faith #10)
    (GOD: new evidence)


    Top Articles
    Latest Posts
    Article information

    Author: Zonia Mosciski DO

    Last Updated: 07/10/2023

    Views: 6311

    Rating: 4 / 5 (71 voted)

    Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Zonia Mosciski DO

    Birthday: 1996-05-16

    Address: Suite 228 919 Deana Ford, Lake Meridithberg, NE 60017-4257

    Phone: +2613987384138

    Job: Chief Retail Officer

    Hobby: Tai chi, Dowsing, Poi, Letterboxing, Watching movies, Video gaming, Singing

    Introduction: My name is Zonia Mosciski DO, I am a enchanting, joyous, lovely, successful, hilarious, tender, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.