Galileo's Real Fingers Go On Display

Those fascinated by the macabre will no doubt want to make a beeline to Florence, Italy, to see two of Galileo's real fingers newly on display.

The astronomer's fingers were removed from his corpse by admirers in the 18th century, and are now a centerpiece of The Galileo Museum, formerly the city's Museum of History of Science. The museum was shut down for two years for renovations and reopened this week.

The museum found the fingers at auction last year and recognized them as being the fingers of the scientist who died in 1642. The digits are being displayed in slender, glass cases.

In addition to Galileo's right hand thumb and middle finger, the museum also has a third finger (in photo) it has had for some time on display, as well as a Galileo tooth.

All were believed to have been removed in 1737, as the corpse was being transferred to the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. There was a vertebra too, but that is being kept at the University of Padua, where the astronomer taught for many years.

The museum also has the only surviving instruments built by Galileo including the lens of a telescope.

Photo, plizzba, flickr
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