Galileo and the Music of the Spheres

Friday, February 21 at UCSD Atkinson Hall

Watch the complete event:


Galileo in the Original - Dr. Jay Pasachoff, Williams College, Astronomy

I have been working with a rare-book librarian and a NASA visualization specialist to try to duplicate Galileo's 1609 discovery of mountains on the moon and to pin down which mountains there he first saw. I will also discuss my first editions of Galileo's 1610 Sidereus Nuncius, his 1613 sunspot book, and his 1632 Dialogo that wound up with his house arrest.

Dr. Pasachoff will have exact replicas of the first editions of Sidereus Nuncius (1610) and Dialogo (1632)

Seeing the Universe through Galileo’s Lenses -
Dr. Brian Keating, UC San Diego, Physics

The refracting telescope, first used in astronomy by Galileo in 1609, continues to revolutionize our understanding of the universe. I will describe a small group of refracting telescopes in continuous operation at the South Pole in Antarctica since 2005 which have helped astrophysicists glimpse the Big Bang from the bottom of the world.

Galileo in His Time -
Dr. Renee Raphael, UC Irvine, History

What did Galileo's contemporaries think about him, his scientific discoveries, and his condemnation by the Catholic Church? I will describe how Galileo's friends, students, and readers across Europe thought and wrote about Galileo in the seventeenth century.

Music, Periodicity and Galileo's Pendulum -
Dr. Shlomo Dubnov, UC San Diego, Music

As a young man Galileo discovered periodic motion by observing a pendulum and measuring it with his pulse. The mechanistic nature of the pendulum had inspired modern composers to create musical works that explore processes of repetitions. In the talk I will describe some of these pieces and discuss aspects of rhythm perception and entrainment that are used for composing music with computers.

Galileo in a World of Qualitative Research -
Dr. Stephanie Jed, UC San Diego, Literature

Although famous for leading scientific research and writing in a quantitative direction of reproducible results, Galileo's methods were formed in qualitative relations of writing and knowing. I will choose passages of Galileo's Il Saggiatore (The Assayer) and his father Vincenzo's Dialogo della musica antica et della moderna that explore this contradiction between qualitative and quantitative research and that might lead to collaborative research today between scientists and humanists.

The Musicians In Ordinary

Musicians in Ordinary

Named after the singers and lutenists who performed in the most intimate quarters of the Stuart monarchs’ palace, The Musicians In Ordinary for the Lutes and Voices dedicate themselves to the performance of early solo song and vocal chamber music. Soprano Hallie Fishel and lutenist John Edwards have been described as ‘winning performers of winning music’. A fixture on the Toronto early music scene for over 10 years, this year MIO became Ensemble in Residence at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. They have performed across North America and lecture regularly at institutions from the scholarly to those for a more general public, including the Renaissance Society of America, the Shakespeare Association of America, Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies, CUNY, Grinnell College, the Universities of Alberta and Toronto, the Kingston Opera Guild, Syracuse, Trent and York Universities and the Bata Shoe Museum. They have been Ensemble in Residence at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.


2:00pm – 4:00pm Panel Discussion moderated by Sheldon Brown with:

  • Dr. Jay Pasachoff (Astronomy, Williams College)
  • Dr. Brian Keating (Physics, UCSD)
  • Dr. Stephanie Jed (Literature, UCSD)
  • Dr. Renee Raphael (History, UC Irvine)
  • Dr. Shlomo Dubnov (Music, UCSD)
4:00pm – 5:00pm Reception
5:00pm – 6:00pm Performance by The Musicians In Ordinary for the Lutes and Voices


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Please buy a permit first at Hopkins Parking Structure.

Directions: to Atkinson Hall | to Hopkins Parking Structure