Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/125

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

unlike Italy in 1611, live in a day when mechanical wonders are becoming commonplace. The whole relation of the Academy with Galileo is full of interest. The Transactions of the Academy give accounts of the members studying the heavens through Galileo's telescope. Cesi makes haste to write to his friend Stelluti in April, 1611, of what he had observed. The moon he finds to be "mountainous, cavernous, sinuous, abounding in water," and the heavens are "either in a state of flux and not different from our own air, or else are such as the Pythagoreans held them to be." What a contrast to these days of revelation was Galileo's second reception in Rome four years later! In his work on the solar spots he was led to espouse the Copernican system. This was a heresy already tabooed. All the old warm friendships and smiling faces became suddenly cold. Galileo still hoped to placate the authorities, and demanded a test by experiment to prove the correctness of his hypothesis; but this was the last thing his enemies would have allowed.

They remembered his challenge to the Aristotelians to test their and his views on the laws of falling bodies from the leaning tower of Pisa, and its result.

The only pleasant feature about this whole unhappy affair is the almost unanimous support and sympathy given by the members of the Lincei. And this meant not a little sacrifice on the part of the Academy, considering the condition of affairs at this time.

Throughout the long controversy with the Church, Galileo received nothing but encouragement and assistance from the Academy.

Some of his greatest works were printed at the expense of the Academy; and when one of its own members became Galileo's accuser, the Academy censured and practically expelled him from the body. Not the least among the splendid achievements of the Academy was the publication of the observations of Hernandez upon the natural history of New Spain (Mexico).

This celebrated naturalist was sent by Philip II to New Spain. The result of several years' faithful labor was embodied in a voluminous work, with numerous illustrations, describing the natural objects of the country with such fidelity and thoroughness that, in spite of the researches of more recent naturalists, it still enjoys the highest reputation. The expense attending the collection of material, drawings, and specimens for this great work is said to have amounted to sixty thousand ducats. Yet for fifty years this manuscript was neglected, no serious effort having been made to publish it. Then the indefatigable Cesi discovered it, had three of his colleagues of the Academy—Terentio, Fabro, and Colonna—to edit and annotate it, when the work was pub-