Smack in the center of the Rome's fashionable Campo de Fiori is a statue of Giordano Bruno, philosopher. Bruno held that God was present in nature and that the universe and life was infinite. The Catholic Church burned him at the stake, right where his statue is today.
As the Spanish physicist Beatriz Gato-Rivera wrote, Bruno "claimed that the sun was only one star among the many thousands, and therrefore, like the sun, many other stars also have planets around them and living beings inhabiting them." Gato-Rivera goes on to note that to "appreciate the genius of Bruno one has to take into account that he lived at a time when more than 99% of the intellectuals believed that the Earth was the center of the Universe, and a few others, like Copernicus and Galileo, believed that it was the Sun, instead, at the center of the Universe, and the stars being some bright heavenly bodies of an unknown nature."
On February 18th, in the year 2000, cardinal Angelo Sodano, the undersecretary of state of the Vatican, expressed the "deep regret" of the catholic church (according to Zenith News Agency with regard to the death sentence against Giordano Bruno) in a letter to the participants of a congress in Naples, which took place for the memory of this Italian philosopher in the local theological faculty 2000. It was a "terrible death", the cardinal wrote 400 years too late, "a sad episode in newer Christian history".
In Bruno's honor, a fleet of space-born laboratories -NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder, Life Finder and Planet Imager and the ESA's Darwin Mission- will dramatically expand humanity's ability to scientifically test Bruno's vision that life is pervasive throughout the universe. The search is well underway with the discovery the past couple of years of more than 228 exoplanets (out of a universe of billions).
Posted by Casey Kazan.