In this fascinating book, the author traces the careers, ideas, discoveries, and inventions of two renowned scientists, Athanasius Kircher and Galileo Galilei, one a Jesuit, the other a sincere man of faith whose relations with the Jesuits deteriorated badly. The Author documents Kircher’s often intuitive work in many areas, including translating the hieroglyphs, developing sundials, and inventing the magic lantern, and explains how Kircher was a forerunner of Darwin in suggesting that animal species evolve. Galileo’s work on scales, telescopes, and sun spots is mapped and discussed, and care is taken to place his discoveries within their cultural environment. While Galileo is without doubt the “winner” in the comparison with Kircher, the latter achieved extraordinary insights by unconventional means. For all Galileo’s fine work, the author believes that scientists do need to regain the power of dreaming, vindicating Kirchner’s view.
"Astronomers fell into two camps and their respective dilemmas are investigated in detail in this most readable, erudite, superbly referenced, and insightful book written by Professor Roberto Buonanno ... . This book is a fascinating exploration of a key stage in the history of astronomy. I recommend it unreservedly." (David W. Hughes, The Observatory, Vol. 135, February, 2015) "Buonanno has found a subject well worth treating, and he has collected a wonderful series of vignettes and anecdotes that I am delighted to have read. ... I found myself thoroughly enjoying this book. It was like going for a walk with a lively and well-read raconteur, one whose mind would leap from topic to topic in an ever-surprising, ever-intriguing conversation. ... it is a delight to dip into at random. And in that sense, it does Kircher proud." (Br. Guy Consolmagno S.J., Journal of Jesuit Studies, Issue 2, 2015) "This book contains many opinions, second-hand information and assumptions about the relations between Galileo Galilei and Jesuits at Collegio Romano. It represents interest for scientists, students, and inquisitive readers." (Nina A. Solovaya, zbMATH, Vol. 1286, 2014)
The Author is Full Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Roma Tor Vergata.He is also Chairman of the Italian Astronomical Society (SAIt) and Director of the Astrophysical Observatory of Teramo.He is currenly a Senior Scientist at ASDC (ASI Data Center), entitled for the GAIA satellite (its launch is foreseen in 2013)