Galileo's Missing Fingers Found
Jar of astronomer's digits donated to Italian museum
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2009 8:33 AM CST
Florence, Italy's Museum of the History of Science now has another two Galileo fingers to add to the one already in its collection.   (Instituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze)
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(Newser) – Two fingers and a tooth removed from Galileo's corpse by the astronomer's 18th-century admirers have resurfaced for the first time in a century. The digits, preserved in an unmarked glass jar, were bought at auction by a man who realized who they belonged to; he donated them to Museum of the History of Science in Florence, which already has another one of Galileo's fingers on display.

Galileo's admirers removed parts of his corpse in the same way fervent Catholics kept parts of the saints, the museum's director tells CNN. "Exactly as it was practiced with saints of religion, so with saints of science," he says. Galileo "was a hero and a martyr, keeping alive freedom of thought and freedom of research." The director says he has no doubt that the fingers are Galileo's, noting that the jar exactly matches the description of one that went missing in 1905.