University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

History of Science and Technology/Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science Colloquium

Friday, October 28th 2016
Speaker: Nick Wilding, Georgia State University
Subject: "Forging the Moon; Or, How to Spot a Fake Galileo"
Refreshments served at 3:15 p.m.

The integrity of the historical record is a prime concern for any historian. It follows that the art of detecting forgeries is crucial to our craft. Early modern print materials have generally been held above suspicion as a technologically impossible, or at least unprofitable, subject for forgery. But the emergence in 2005 of a spectacular copy of Galileo’s cosmos-changing Sidereus Nuncius, furnished with an autograph inscription and hand drawn lunar illustrations, forced a reconsideration of this assumption. By reconstructing the recent history of the analysis of this single and singular object, Nick Wilding shows how, when viewed from different perspectives, within shifting contexts, and alongside a choice of control copies, a seemingly rigorous and secure authentication can gradually lose its certainty and eventually become proof of forgery.

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