Who Are Your Heroes?

The MIT biologist admires Galileo for inventing the scientific method.
  • Transcript


Question: Who are your heroes?

Leonard Guarente: I think one hero I would mention is Galileo. The reason for that, and the reason I think at least to my mind he's the greatest scientist, is the way we do science now is to actually have ideas that we can test with experiments. And it's -- this is called the scientific method, so critical to making science more than philosophy. And I think in earlier civilizations -- the Greeks, the Romans -- the greatest minds, the philosophers, they just sort of intuited things. You know, here's the way things must be. And of course that's a recipe for making a lot of mistakes and for having a false impression of the world. And what Galileo did was to say, okay, I have an idea, but I think the way to go is to do experiments and to test the ideas. And that, I think, is the bedrock upon which modern science is built. Also I mean he took a lot of heat for what he did in his lifetime from the Catholic Church, and he was operating under pretty extreme circumstances. And given those circumstances, I think he performed pretty darn well

 Recorded on November 9, 2009