In what could be considered a proverbial “screw you” to the Catholic Church, the long dead, amputated middle finger of Galileo is on display in a museum in Florence, Italy. The macabre display of the solitary digit protruding skyward, as if it is pointing towards the heavens, is one of the more bizarre artifacts that you will encounter in a scientific display. So how is it that Galileo’s middle finger, the father of modern science’s middle finger at that, became a display piece at the Florence History of Science Museum for wide eyed gawkers to wonder over?
Anyone who has studied even the most rudimentary of science will know who Galileo is. He was a scientist, astronomer, and supporter of Copernicus’s theory of heliocentrism. That is the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun. He did all this work at a time where scientific discovery was heavily scrutinized, and often criticized by the church as being incorrect, and contrary to scripture. For his discoveries that were generations ahead of their time, he faced the Roman Inquisition, and was branded a heretic. So now to that middle finger of Galileo’s, and him giving it to the church.