GALILEO ARRESTED AND BEFORE THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS. SCIENCE UNDER DURESS.

The image above is from a painting by Joseph Nicolas Robert-Puery (1797-1890). It dramatizes Galileo’s trial before the Roman Inquisition who had charged him with heresy. He spent the last years of his life under house arrest. (Notation courtesy of “Wired“)

It is an effortless leap of association to regard the current administrative and political censure of NASA scientist Dr. Richard Hoover as a reprise of Galileo’s historic arrest and censure. This is not some idle bit of rabble rousing, it is a documented case of officialdom cutting short the normal process of research, hypotheses, and experimental validation that either establishes or disproves a proposed theory. As reported by Dr. Hoover’s publisher, the Journal of Cosmology, no such valid scientific disputation of Dr. Hoovers findings have yet to be officially expressed and validated. So what now?

When we allow our pursuit of explanations of all that surrounds us to be halted or even prevented from starting we implant ourselves firmly in place and become immovable edifices of the past.  We become markers of our own extinction.  We also block our ever-increasing awareness of the glory, beauty and promise of  the system we call cosmos. This is biologically counter to our very existence. We actually are in a continual intellectual , philosophical and physical evolutionary process by virtue of our curiosity and the amazing revelations that come from that. So, again when all of this ceases, in very short order we cease!

For centuries scientific research has closeted itself within the strict scientific domain. The public only became aware of most of the scientific breakthroughs after they had been carefully tested and proven to be sound theory. As humankind’s urge to know more about our universe grew, science grew and in growing it needed to gain expanded and extensive financing for its research efforts. Governments became the principal funding source and along with that came  more openness about those research programs. This is fundamentally good and a source of strength for the sciences by virtue of a stronger public interest and support.

Governments too, depend upon public interest and support; usually in the form of politics. Unfortunately politics are fickle and as such can randomly and perversely abrogate areas of scientific progress. Suddenly politics defines science by virtue of its control of the purse strings, and if the politics of the day are dominated by extreme fundamentalist and/or anti-science views then the purse can snap shut. This includes the abrupt cancelling of important research and even the public humiliation of the scientists involved if the research reveals results that are unpopular or appear suspicious to political eyes.

Humankind was meant to come into existence and to evolve. We are critical to the entire dynamics of the cosmos. We explore and in exploring we discover and in discovering we then seek to explain and in explaining we add to that we call science. Yes, within the cosmos we are sub-atomic in size, but we are gigantic with respect to our commitment to show the reasons, the beauty and the glory of all that surrounds us.  This is science and its uninterrupted practice moves humankind closer to understanding ourselves and our celestial environment.  Science is ultimately enriching, encouraging and reassuring and induces a spirituality as we come to recognize that we are as one with the cosmos.

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