Science communicators beware! History shows that the pursuit of scientific truth can sometimes get both communicators and scientists in trouble. The Italian Galileo Galilei was hired early in the 1600s as a professor of mathematics at Padua in Venice. At the time, the Mediterranean was the center of scientific study. In 1608, merchants from Flanders arrived selling spyglasses. Intrigued, Galileo soon learned how to make what we would now call telescopes that were much more powerful than those the merchants offered. With them, one could identify ships 2 hours before they actually arrived in Venice.

When he trained his telescope on the heavens, Galileo found many more stars than had been previously reported. He also discovered four moons that orbit the planet Jupiter. Most important, he ...

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