Dialogue unfolds over four days among three people: Salviati, who argues that Copernicus was right and that Earth orbits the Sun; Sagredo, an intelligent everyman; and Simplicio, who has latched onto the Sun orbiting the Earth out of an uncritical deference to Aristotle and Ptolemy.
This book inspires awe in the power of the human mind. Here's someone over one hundred years before flight (hot air balloons) and three hundred years before spaceflight (rockets) arguing correctly about what the Earth looks like from space.
While Galileo deductions are admirable, he's deferential to evidence and illustrates the dangers of accepting the word of authorities unquestioningly. These are cornerstones of modern science (although I see many academics bemoan genuflecting to contemporary authorities) and, in part, the hacker way. Needless to say Galileo ended up in hot water with the Catholic Church.
This translation is easy to read, the front matter is interesting, and the margin summaries of what's happening during the dialog make it easy to skim back and forth.
If only everything was this lucid!
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