Monday, February 13, 2012

John L. Heilbron about Galileo and God

John Lewis Heilbron, born 17 March 1934, is an American historian of science best known for his work in the history of physics and the history of astronomy.

He is Professor of History and Vice-Chancellor Emeritus (Vice-Chancellor 1990-1994) at the University of California, Berkeley, senior research fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, and visiting professor at Yale University and the California Institute of Technology. He edited the academic journal Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences for twenty-five years.

Heilbron attended Lowell High School in San Francisco, California,[citation needed] and was a member of the Lowell Forensic Society. He received his A.B. (1955) and M.A. (1958) degrees in physics and his Ph.D. (1964) in history from the University of California, Berkeley. He was Thomas Kuhn's graduate student in the 1960s when Kuhn was writing The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Heilbron is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

From the context of what he wrote about the religious views of Max Planck it appears to me that professor John L. Heilbron himself has something to say about natural sciences and God.

The subject is apparently very important to him also despite of his dismissive style. For in 2010 Heilbron published a major 528 pages book on the life and work of Galileo (Oxford University Press).

Galileo is one of the most tragic confrontations between scientific observation and religious faith and the persecution of Galileo by the Italian Inquisition in the name of truth a highly educational episode to us all.

"A masterpiece...It far surpasses all previous biographies of Galileo. Impeccable scholarship."--Nick Jardine, Professor of the History and Philosophy of Sciences, Cambridge University

"By far the best general reconstruction of Galileo's private and intellectual llife available in the English language."--Paolo Galluzzi, Professor and Director, Museo Galielo, Florence

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