Astronomer Galileo represents cultural bridge linking China, Italy: scientist

08:49, April 30, 2010      

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Famous astronomer Galileo Galilei's passion for scientific research and human progress represents a cultural bridge linking China and Italy, an Italian scientist said Wednesday.

"Paradoxically, Galileo was better known in China than in the Western world. The people there read his works in Chinese, translated by the Jesuit missionaries, and started to venerate him as the father of modern science," said Antonino Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists and head of the Italian research center, Fermi.

Speaking at the inauguration of a six-meter high Galileo bronze statue, Zichichi said the Chinese people were the first to really appreciate the work of Galileo.

It was donated to Italy by the prestigious Chinese Center of Advanced Science and Technology (CCAST) and designed by its president and the Nobel laureate physician Tsung Dao Lee.

The statue, called "Galileo Galilei Divine Man," has been placed in the inner court of one of Rome's most beautiful and ancient churches: the breathtaking State Basilica St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs, depicted by Renaissance genius Michelangelo.

Zichichi explained the gift stood as the coronation of 30 years of scientific and technological collaboration between China and Italy in many pioneering fields, including medicine and physics.

"Our partnership has strong cultural ties with the figure of Galilei," he said, recalling that the Chinese government had celebrated the Italian astronomer in 1991 with the issuance of commemorative postcards.

Zichichi highlighted the many contributions of Galileo to scientific and human progress, including space exploration through his powerful telescope and the spreading of the universe's sun-centered theory.

The statue donation ceremony was attended by Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi, who praised the event as further boosting bilateral relations and friendship between China and Italy.

"It's an important step, paving the way for the celebration of the Chinese Culture Year in Italy," Bondi said.

Transport Minister Altero Matteoli said Galileo was part of Italy's cultural and scientific heritage, embedded in its DNA.

"Galileo is what makes Italy a great and advanced country, despite the precariousness of our industrial system, mainly composed of small enterprises," Matteoli said.

"Galileo's genius today lives among Italians. We must be thankful to him for this," he said.

Galileo (1564-1642) pioneered the experimental scientific method and was the first to use a refracting telescope to explore the universe, which led him to make ground-breaking astronomical discoveries, such as Jupiter's satellites, stars in the Milky Way and the moon's craters.

Source: Xinhua


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