Letting Go with Galileo

Chaos in Print

I’m going to be honest with you. I’m just doing this to impress women. This whole “writing for the Nugget” thing. I mean, have you seen any pictures of me? I’m this chubby little nerd in dire need of a haircut and cursed with a perpetual five o’clock shadow. All I got going for me is this big brain. It is my gift, my curse. I try to use it to impress women, but it constantly blows up in my face. As I’ve learned from just sitting back and overhearing conversations between my classmates, you do not impress women with words like, “The glimmer in your eyes is like that of the morning star.” No, you impress with, “Geez, you’re hot. I know a place where we can get some twenty five cent draft. Ya in?”

So, I’m sure the last thing you want to read is another rambling tale of an ancient physicist. In fact, I know you don’t want to read it. Just turn the page. I’m sure there’s some particularly filthy Grape Vines this week. But, what can I say? Mr. Editor Guy, Collin Perilo, he’s waiting for it. In our last meeting, he said to me, “Ever since you ended that first one with ‘Next week: the story of Galileo,’ I’ve been waiting for the story of Galileo! WRITE IT ALREADY!” Now, here I am, trying to track down a NAITSA exec so I can write a piece on how well Shinerama Day did, desperately trying to get my contractually-obligated three articles together. And since the good Mr. Perilo signs my paychecks, I should be more worried about impressing him rather than (name deleted to protect her identity). Therefore, welcome to the story of Galileo.

You have to love Galileo. This guy was the first true physicist. He paved the way for what Newton and Einstein eventually did. The first story I read about Galileo was how he was really, really bored in church one day. He looked up and saw that the fire-and-brimstone sermon of the day was causing the chandelier to sway back and forth. Since Galileo was really, really bored, he started timing the swings of the chandelier, using his own pulse as a stopwatch. Did I mention he was really, really bored? And that boring sermon led to the whole study of simple harmonic motion, which governs everything from clock pendulums to waves. Sadly, this wasn’t the last time that Galileo would be making waves in the church.

All great physics discoveries have come from boredom. I mean, we wouldn’t have astronomy if it weren’t for physicists, at home, on a Saturday night, bored mindless, looking at the stars saying, “Why can’t I get a woman?” Eventually, they see something weird in the stars, dig out their telescopes, and boom! They’ve discovered a comet. Trust me, the vast majority of comets have been named after women that astronomers were hot for.

This brings us back to Galileo. He, too, saw something weird in the stars, namely these moving stars that had been dubbed “planets.” So, like every other bored, dateless physicist, he dug out his telescope and looked at the planets. He was so bored, he even built better telescopes to get closer looks. And before you knew it…HOLY FUCK! He noticed that this one planet, Jupiter, had moons spinning around it! THE PLANETS HAD FUCKING MOONS! Needless to say, this blew his 17th century mind.

He started looking at other things through his telescope. Before you knew it, he’d discovered moons around the other planets, and noticed that Saturn even had rings. He was starting to rock the 17th century with all this stuff. But, he started going a little loopy, too. It wasn’t too long before he started staring at the Sun – through his telescope – to learn more about the Sun. He discovered sunspots, but went blind in the process. At least, that’s the official reason. Some have speculated that he went blind because of his inability to get dates on Saturday nights and what that leads lonely men to do, but this isn’t a forum for such vulgar debate. That’s what the Grape Vines are for.

Now, as all this was going on, Galileo soon made what became his most famous discovery. He saw all these moons spinning around planets, and noticed that all the planets were spinning around something. Back then, the Catholic Church knew what everything was spinning around: “Everything spins around the Earth! We are the centre of the universe!” But as Galileo looked at all these spinning planets and moons and started going the math, he went, “Uhh, sorry, don’t think so. The numbers say that everything, Earth included, spins around the Sun.”

So Galileo started running around teaching people that the church was fucked and that the Earth revolved around the Sun. As you can imagine, this really pissed off the church. The church started trying to reign in Galileo, but G stuck to his guns. This is the second-most important lesson we can learn from Galileo: when you know the truth; believe in the truth, you must fight for it and stick up for it.

But still, it wasn’t too long before the church had a gun to Galileo’s head and said, “Shut the fuck up with this ‘Earth revolves around the Sun’ crap or we’ll fucking kill you!” This brings us to the most important lesson we can learn from Galileo: there comes a time when you have to let it go. And trust me, when someone has a knife to your throat and is saying, “See it my way or you die,” that’s a good time to let it go.

So, Galileo recanted. He told the good people of old Italy, “Hey, I was wrong. Turns out everything doesn’t revolve around the Sun.” And then, as the church’s officials led Galileo to the edge of town, with a gun pressed to Galileo’s back to make sure he didn’t change his mind, Galileo is reported to have muttered under his breath, “Fuck you. It does.”

But still, he let it go and lived happily ever after. History proved him right. In fact, the Church even eventually apologized for what they did to Galileo…in 1969, after men landed on the moon and there really was no more excuse.

So, I’m going to try to learn from Galileo again. I’m letting it go. Yeah, I want to write stuff like this, but you don’t want to read it. I would love to say that these rambling tales are the best part of the Nugget, but they aren’t. I’m letting it go. I’m going to stick to writing the hard news and try impressing women some other way. Let’s see if I can get the hang of this. *ahem* “Hey, baby, I know a place where we can get some twenty five cent draft. You in?” But, under my breath, you know I’ll really be saying, “The glimmer in your eyes is matched only by that of the morning star.”

Next time, the story of Plato and how a night of binge drinking turned into the most influential political text of all time. When you write my next paycheck, Collin, remember, it’s Mark with a “k.”

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