Galileo and Copernicus

Tue, 23 May 1995 14:54:06 EST

Nick Corduan mentioned Galileo and Copernicus in his recent post, in
conjunction with his argument that government isn't necessary for
science. It seems worth mentioning that Galileo spent a lot of time
trying to gain patronage from both the Venetians (who patronized him
as a technical expert and mathematics teacher) and the Medicis who
eventually did patronize him after his "discovery" of the four
"Medicean Stars" (known to us as the Galilean moons of Jupiter). See
Mario Biagioli's _Galileo, Courtier_ for details. Copernicus had a
fairly lucrative position in the church in Poland which he gained via
inheritance. In any case both of them were funded by one of the two
most powerful institutions of their day -- the State or the Church.

Very few, very few scientists of any day were able to pursue their
science because they were independently wealthy. Most, by far, had
to gain patronage from individuals or, increasingly in the 19th cent.
from the government or industry.

Brad D. Hume
History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University