science

I’m getting over the side-effects from my second Pfizer vaccination. It’s a short sharp shock and a little bit of an insight into the world of Covid-19. It’s not a world I would wish on anyone and certainly not a place I wish to visit any time soon. My heart goes out to anyone who has first-hand knowledge of this awful virus, particularly those who have lost loved ones.

The side-effects are over in a few days so anyone thinking of getting vaccinated you will be wise to go for it and not risk the chance of catching the full virus. We owe a lot not only to front-line staff, but the scientists from around the world who rallied to the call and in a heroic effort had a multitude of vaccines ready in record-time and now rolling out across the globe.

These vaccines, collectively, are an obvious choice for a Nobel Prize for Science. But then we have the Soothsayers & Doomsdayers who believe something undiscernible will happen if you take the vaccine or fly round the world because it’s actually flat. It’s a free world, some of it at least, so the choice is yours. But let me just mention that Medieval thinking has no place in the 21st century. If it did, our civilization may never have arrived in the 21st Century.

Of course, in the brief history of our human civilisation, science has not been around that long. When science came into direct conflict with the perceived reality of the world, at the time, namely religion or the ruling monarch, then invariably it was a scientist who paid the ultimate price. Take, for example, Giordano Bruno.

Giordano Bruno was a 16th-century Italian philosopher, and a former Catholic priest. He strayed from the then perceived truth of the Catholic Church and developed, for the time, some quite unorthodox beliefs. He championed the Copernican system of astronomy which placed our Sun at the centre of our solar system, not the Earth.  He postulated that the universe is infinite and that other solar systems existed. I suppose it was understandable that the ruling classes and the church were less than happy with his ideas. But what also annoyed the ruling classes was his ability to annoy everyone each time he opened his mouth. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for Bruno the printing press had been invented and he had the ability to print his ideas for all to read about. He even laid-into one of his professors by publishing a broadsheet underlining twenty mistakes the man had made in a single lecture. He was known throughout Europe as a bold and brilliant thinker and for that very reason, the Catholic Church feared him.

Bruno was arrested and imprisoned by the Venetian and Roman Inquisitions. Throughout his eight years of imprisonment, and no doubt torture, he refused to recant his beliefs. His drive for knowledge and truth that so marked the period of history known as the Renaissance, is testament to men and women like Giordano Bruno where our current understanding of science derives.

On a cold and chilly early morning of February 16th, 1600, Giordano Bruno was executed by the Roman Catholic Church. He was taken to the Piazza dei Fiori in Rome and burnt alive at the stake. To make the man’s last few minutes on earth more ignominious and because the Church was fearful of Bruno’s ideas, the executioner was ordered to tie his tongue so that he would be unable to address the crowd gathered to witness the gruesome spectacle.

The sacrifice made by Giordano Bruno in that blazing bonfire, a blazing fire that shone on the ignorance and vanity of the church, has blazed away through the centuries, and shone a light throughout history, a light that shone to show us the brilliance of science.

Footnote

After twelve years of deliberations, the Roman Catholic Church grudgingly, towards the end of the 20th Century, admitted that Galileo Galilei was right in his support of the theories of Copernicus. As an old man, Galileo was forced by the inquisition to recant his ideas under threat of torture. But no such admission has been made in the case of Bruno. His writings are still on the Vatican’s list of forbidden texts.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2021

#Covid-19 #Science

 

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