Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Galileu, Herói e Covarde

Galileu é um herói da ciência exatamente por ter se recusado a virar um mártir. Adam Gopnik escreve um excelente artigo resenhando recentes livros sobre Galileu. É divertido saber que o pai dele tocava cavaquinho e que Galileu fazia horóscopos para comprar o leitinho das crianças. Gopnik encerra seu artigo com sábias palavras: Martyrdom is the test of faith, but the test of truth is truth. Once the book was published, who cared what transparent lies you had to tell to save your life? The best reason we have to believe in miracles is the miracle that people are prepared to die for them. But the best reason that we have to believe in the moons of Jupiter is that no one has to be prepared to die for them in order for them to be real. So the scientist can shrug at the torturer and say, Any way you want me to tell it, I will. You’ve got the waterboard. The stars are still there. It may be no accident that so many of the great scientists really have followed Galileo, in ducking and avoiding the consequences of what they discovered. In the roster of genius, evasion of worldly responsibility seems practically a fixed theme. Newton escaped the world through nuttiness, Darwin through elaborate evasive courtesies and by farming out the politics to Huxley. Heisenberg’s uncertainty was political—he did nuclear-fission research for Hitler—as well as quantum-mechanical. Science demands heroic minds, but not heroic morals. It’s one of the things that make it move.

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