February 17, 1600 – After being found guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition, Dominican friar Giordano Bruno is burned at the stakeÂ in the Campo de’ Fiori in Rome. Bruno accepted (the then heretical) Copernican heliocentrism, but also theorized that the stars were other suns, each with their own planetsÂ and possibly their own lifeforms. (He also thought, incorrectly, that the universe was infinite, with an infinite number of stars.) The Inquisition also charged him with, among other things, holding beliefs contrary to Church doctrine on the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Birth, and transubstantiation. His trial and detention lasted seven years. A statue honoringÂ Bruno was erected in 1889 in the Campo de’ Fiori, despite opposition by the Church.
February 17, 2010 -Â Helen Kagin (born Helen McGregor Smith) dies in Cincinnati, Ohio, aged 76. A career anesthesiologist, she co-founded Camp Quest (a summer camp for children of nonreligious and freethinking families) in 1996 with husband and fellow atheist activist Edwin Kagin.
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