Exactly four hundred years ago in 1610, Galileo Galilei published The Starry Messenger, a book that defined his monumental theory that the sun - not the earth - is the center of the solar system. Galileo's theory flew in the face of long-established Catholic dogma that the earth does not move. Eventually, Galileo would collide with the awesome power of the Pope.
In 1632, Galileo faced trial for heresy, a capital offense. During his trial, Galileo was threatened with the instruments of torture that were maliciously brandished in his face. Under duress of the dual threats of torture and execution, Galileo recanted - but he lived under house arrest for the rest of his life in a form of suspended animation rather like Aun Sang Suu Kii, and he became the Renaissance icon of injustice and the overarching powers of the Papacy. For these reasons, Galileo is indisputably the most iconic figure of scientific persecution, a genius whose ideas displaced religious orthodoxy with reason and fundamentalist fantasies with rational analysis.

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