On this day in 1633, Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was forced by the Roman Catholic Church to recant his discovery that the earth orbits the sun. The Church doctrine at that time taught the earth was the center of the universe.
"In questions of science," he wrote, "the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual."
In 1609, Galileo created the first telescope to study the heavens. With his 30 power spyglass he found four moons circling Jupiter, studied Saturn, and observed the phases of Venus.
His discovery of sunspots on the sun and craters and peaks in the moon supported the Copernicus model and contradicted Aristotle's ancient proposition that heavenly bodies were divine and further agitated Church doctrine on heavenly perfection.
He was told to stop, but continued to search and write about his discoveries until he was arrested and convicted of heresy. He was forced to abjure his theory and sent to exile in Siena until his death.
A heavenly beacon of sense, reason, and intellect, Galileo helped create the foundation for modern science. He was one of the most original geniuses of all time.
"You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself," he said.
The Church lifted its ban on his Copernicus-championing book, The Dialogues in 1822.
A single mind can change the world.