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DNA Tests - Settling The Galileo Dispute

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The much vaunted astrologer, Galileo Galilei, is famed for causing ructions between science and religion and he is set to do so again as DNA tests are set to be carried out to determine the cause of his blindness.

According to a BBC report, Italian researchers want to exhume Galileo’s remains in order to carry out a number of DNA tests, in the hope of answering questions about the blindness that afflicted him and whether or not the body buried with him belongs to his daughter. DNA tests are an extremely accurate means of determining kinship and can be used to study disease.

DNA Tests - Galileo Causes Controversy Again

The DNA tests that researchers are hoping to carry out on Galileo are causing controversy but it won’t be the first time that Galileo has courted it. Galileo was known to have outraged those in religious authority for his accurate claim that the Earth actually revolved around the Sun. This led to him being accused of heresy and placed under house arrest. The proposed DNA tests on his remains, however, are not welcomed by all in Italy. The rector of the church where he is buried is unhappy about the plan and calls the notion disrespectful. The researchers, conversely, see it as important in understanding the way he lived and to find out the cause of his illnesses that affected him in later life.

DNA Tests - The Story of Galileo’s Daughter

According to historical sources, Galileo cherished his daughter immensely, especially in later life when he was consigned to his house under the terms of his house arrest. The researcher in charge of the intended exhumation of Galileo’s remains and the subsequent DNA tests, Professor Paulo Galluzzi, tells the BBC that he truly believes that the body laid to rest with Galileo is that of his daughter, Sister Maria Celeste. Her relationship with her father is much publicised due to a number of letters that she wrote to the Renaissance-era astrologer that were recently published to much acclaim. Prof. Galluzzi wishes to carry out the DNA tests because he believes that finding the remains of someone who was so integral in the life of one of history’s greatest scientists is an important, humanitarian task.


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