On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

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pages: 271 words: 68,440

More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionised the Cosmos by Dava Sobel

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Astronomia nova, Commentariolus, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Edmond Halley, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

Rather, I feel I have reaped a great reward, namely that I, a rather daring youth, compelled this venerable man to share his ideas sooner in this discipline with the whole world. And all learned minds will join in my assessment of these theories as soon as the books we now have in press in Nuremberg are published.” Chapter 8 On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres I confess that I shall expound many things differently from my predecessors, although I shall do so thanks to them, and with their aid, for it was they who first opened the road of inquiry into these very questions. —FROM COPERNICUS’s INTRODUCTION TO BOOK I, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, 1543 Alone again with his fears of ridicule after Rheticus left, Copernicus fussed over his original manuscript. He jotted notes in the margins regarding a few new thoughts and corrections. He felt grave misgivings about the Mercury sections in Books V and VI.

Christianson, John Robert. On Tycho’s Island: Tycho Brahe and His Assistants, 1570–1601. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Copernicus, Nicolaus. Complete Works. Translation and commentary by Edward Rosen. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978 (vol. 2, On the Revolutions) and 1985 (vol. 3, Minor Works). ———. On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. Translated by A. M. Duncan. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1976. ———. On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. Translated by Charles Glenn Wallis. Annapolis: St. John’s Bookstore, 1939. Danielson, Dennis. The First Copernican: Georg Joachim Rheticus and the Rise of the Copernican Revolution. New York: Walker, 2006. Donahue, William H., trans. Johannes Kepler’s Astronomia nova (1609). Santa Fe: Green Lion, 2004. Drake, Stillman.

A More PERFECT HEAVEN How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos DAVA SOBEL Contents Cover Title Page Decdication “To the Reader, Concerning … This Work” Part One • Prelude Chapter 1 Moral, Rustic, and Amorous Epistles Chapter 2 The Brief Sketch Chapter 3 Leases of Abandoned Farmsteads Chapter 4 On the Method of Minting Money Chapter 5 The Letter Against Werner Chapter 6 The Bread Tariff Part Two • Interplay “And the Sun Stood Still”. ACT I “And the Sun Stood Still”. ACT II Part Three • Aftermath Chapter 7 The First Account Chapter 8 On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres Chapter 9 The Basel Edition Chapter 10 Epitome of Copernican Astronomy Chapter 11 Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World, Ptolemaic and Copernican Chapter 12 An Annotated Census of Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Thanksgiving Copernican Chronology Notes on the Quotations Illustration Credits Maps Bibliography Footnotes A Note on the Author Also by Dava Sobel Imprint To my fair nieces, AMANDA SOBEL and CHIARA PEACOCK, with love in the Copernican tradition of nepotism.


pages: 363 words: 108,670

Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love by Dava Sobel

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Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, cognitive dissonance, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, Edmond Halley, germ theory of disease, Hans Lippershey, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Murano, Venice glass, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Peace of Westphalia, retrograde motion

Around it, the Sun, the Moon, the five planets, and all the stars spun eternally, carried in perfectly circular paths by the motions of nested crystalline celestial spheres. This heavenly machinery, like the gearwork of a great clock, turned day to night and back to day again. In 1543, however, the Polish cleric Nicolaus Copernicus flung the Earth from its central position into orbit about the Sun, in his book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, or De revolutionibus, as it is usually called. By imagining the Earth to turn on its own axis once a day, and travel around the Sun once a year, Copernicus rationalized the motions of the heavens. He saved the enormous Sun the trouble of traipsing all the way around the smaller Earth from morning till evening. Likewise the vast distant realm of the stars could now lie still, instead of having to wheel overhead even more rapidly than the Sun every single day.

Because, O deluded man, neither do I know how my arteries are of service to me, nor my cartilages, spleen, or gall; I should not even know that I had gall, or a spleen, or kidneys, if they had not been shown to me in many dissected corpses.” Sagredo’s frequent anatomical analogies throughout the Dialogue recall that Andreas Vesalius published his revelations about human anatomy, On the Fabric of the Human Body, in 1543—the same year as Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, and with just as much affront to Aristotle. Even while Galileo sat writing the Dialogue nearly a century later, Aristotelians still clung to the heart as the origin of the nerves, though Vesalius had followed their course up through the neck to the brain. Vesalius, who took his medical degree at Padua and lectured all over Italy, had also staged sensational popular demonstrations showing the male and female skeletons to contain the same number of ribs, thus defying the widespread belief, based on the Book of Genesis, that men came one rib short.


pages: 1,197 words: 304,245

The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, British Empire, clockwork universe, Commentariolus, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, germ theory of disease, Google X / Alphabet X, Hans Lippershey, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge economy, lone genius, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, QWERTY keyboard, Republic of Letters, spice trade, spinning jenny, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

The Industrial Revolution is rather different: it is rather difficult to say when it began and when it ended (conventionally, it runs from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840), and it affected some places and some people much more rapidly and extensively than it affected others, but everyone would agree that it began in England and depended on the steam engine and the factory system. Finally, the Copernican revolution is a conceptual mutation or transformation, which made the sun, not the earth, the centre of the universe, and placed the Earth in movement around the sun instead of the sun around the earth. For the first hundred years after the publication of Copernicus’s book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres in 1543 only a fairly limited number of specialists were familiar with the details of his arguments, which were only generally accepted in the second half of the seventeenth century. A failure to distinguish these senses, and to ask which of them the first users of the term ‘the Scientific Revolution’ had in mind, has caused a tremendous amount of confusion. The source of this confusion is simple: from its first appearances, the term ‘the Scientific Revolution’ was being used in two quite different ways.

Quine) 514n Commentariolus (Nicolaus Copernicus) 137–8, 139, 142 common sense 529, 532, 533, 537, 543 Common Sense (Thomas Paine) 20 compasses 327–30 deviation and dip 481 discovery of America and 60 Greeks and Romans 62 magnets and 327–8 needles of 388 Compendium of Arithmetic, Geometry, Proportions and Proportionality, A (Luca Pacioli) 176 competition 92–3, 104, 108 Conan Doyle, Arthur 400 Conant, James Bryant 394, 544 Concerning the Recent Phenomena of the Aetherial World (Tycho Brahe) 193 Congo River 79 Consideratione (Giambattista Benedetti) 27 consistency 270n Constantinople 184, 186n, 187, 451 constraint 589–90 constructivism 516–17, 591 Contarini, Cardinal Gasparo 73 Continuation of New Experiments, A (Robert Boyle) 492, 503 Continuation of the New Digester, A (Denis Papin) 504–10 controversy and change 245–7 Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (Bernard de Fontenelle) 231 Conversations with Galileo’s Starry Messenger (Johannes Kepler) 8–9, 302 Copernican Revolution, The (Thomas Kuhn) 18, 145, 246n, 516 Copernicus, Nicolaus 137–59 see also On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres acceptable margins of error for 262 altera orbis terrarium 132 background 137 Bacon dismisses 107 Bellarmine’s attitude to 388 Bruno and 146–9 Catholic condemnation of 104, 149, 197n, 214 conception of Earth 3n contemporary knowledge of 7 crater named after 102 Descartes and 362 difficulties implicit in theories 218 Digges and 149–51, 154–9 Earth as one spherical globe 138 Earth’s rotation described 139 Galileo and 45, 91–2, 233, 267, 358, 371, 395n Gilbert tries to justify 329 Greek forebears 78, 91 Gresham’s Law and 304 heliocentrism and geoheliocentrism 140 Hobbes on 39 hypotheses of 386 Kepler’s Rudolphine tables 307 Kuhn on 13n, 55, 562 laws of astronomy claim 370 mathematician, as 424 microcosm and macrocosm 244 monetary reform expertise 206n nature of the earth 525–6 opposition to 145 Ptolemy and 144–5, 152, 154, 246 reading material of 141–3 reflected light of planets 245 Sacrobosco and 229 spheres of earth and water 116 success of system, factors in 516 summary 137 three systems of the cosmos 97, 99 two spheres theory rejected 139 Tycho Brahe and 140, 193–5, 223, 226, 227 Venus and Earth 222 Vesalius and 183 copyright 101n Coriolanus (William Shakespeare) 5 corpuscular philosophy 433–4, 443, 446, 447, 460 Cortes, Hernan 38–9 Corvinus, Lawrence 139 Cosimo II (de’ Medici) 214 Cosmographiæ introductio, The (Martin Waldseemüller) 59n, 124 Cosmographic Book (Peter Apian) 201, 202 Cosmographic Mystery, The (Johannes Kepler) 212 Cotes, Roger 322, 375 Coulanges, Fustel de 550n Course of Experimental Philosophy, A (J.

Collingwood) 431 Imaginary Invalid, The (Molière) 393 immutable mobiles 303 impetus theory 574 Index of Prohibited Books 276, 379 indexes, importance of 305n India 128, 137, 177 Indiscreet Jewels, The (Denis Diderot) 51 Industrial Revolution clockwork facilitates 486 contribution of science to 479, 508 early medieval forerunner 484 effect and duration 18, 429 geared machinery 484 precision instrumentation of 423 Scientific Revolution and 13, 17, 19, 476 16th century progress claimed 431, 446 skills involved 445 steam engine and 490 inertia 19, 50, 372 Ingrassia, Giovanni Filippo 85, 95, 96 Inquisition (Roman) Bruno burnt alive 10, 149 della Porta and 276 Descartes and 362 Galileo condemned by 37, 107, 545 Stellato before 157 torture by 314–15 Institutes of the Orator (Quintilian) 403 Institutiones (Cassiodorus) 451n instruments, scientific 209, 244–5, 560 Instruments for the Restoration of Anatomy (Tycho Brahe) 180 intellectual property 337 Intelligent Design 445 internet, the 593–4 interpretation 83 Interpreter, The (John Cowell) 402 Introductio ad veram physicam (John Keill) 473 Introductio geographica (Peter Apian) 189 Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, An (Claude Bernard) 426 invention 61n, 66–7, 82n Isaac, Joel 585–6 Isis 512 Islam 37, 66, 113 Italian (language) 30 Jackson, Thomas 402 James I, King 159 (and see below) James VI, King (of Scotland) 6, 10 (and see above) Jansen, Cornelius 289–90 Jansenism 295, 297 Japanese 484 Jardin des Plantes, Paris 356 Jerusalem 115n, 119, 120 Jesuits Aristotle and the new science 537n Clavius leading astronomer of 118 Galileo and 37, 197n, 225, 226 Gilbert’s ideas and 324, 328 missionaries 7 scholastic philosophers at colleges 31 van Helmont and 291 Venus orbiting the sun 24n Jews 66, 76 John of Glogau 72 John of Jandun 114 John of Saxony 337 John of Wallingford 118 Johns, Adrian 26n Johnson, Dr Samuel 26, 284, 474 Jones, William 564 Jonson, Ben 9, 355 Joubert, Laurent 304 Journal des sçavans 341 Jovilabe 480 Judaei, Themo 117, 135, 326 judgement 422 Julius Caesar 99 Julius Caesar (William Shakespeare) 5 Jupiter, moons of difficulties caused by 218 eclipses of 480 Galileo discovers 38, 86, 88, 407 Kepler’s terminology for 48 measuring longitudes by 481 naming of 96, 99 rapid confirmation of discovery 89, 92, 237 Rømer’s work 518 use as a clock, 215 juries 407, 419, 426 Kant, Immanuel 327 Kay, John 484 Keill, John 473 Kelley, Donald 551 Kepler, Johannes 211–14, 262–6 barnacle geese 268 conflating maths and natural philosophy 24n contacts Galileo and responses from 220–1, 224 contemporary knowledge of 8 Conversation with Galileo’s Starry Messenger 9, 302 Epitome astronomiae Copernicanae 130n, 152n, 252 escaping from circular movement 390n Gilbert’s model of magnetism and 329, 516–17 his teacher 192 Holy Roman Emperor and 31 hypotheses, types of 386–7 infinite size of universe 243 laws of planetary motion 11 Mars and 193, 301, 305 mathematician, as 424 Mercury in transit 223n Newton on 376, 393 on published writings 198n printing press recognised by 306 Rudolphine tables 307 satellites 48 sea and land levels 130n speed of light measurements and 521 universe as a clock 485 variety of publications by 205 King, Gregory 259, 260 Kircher, Athanasius 279 Knauss, Friedrich von 445 Knieper, Hans 196 knowledge access to 78–9 Aristotle’s concept of 68 as power 83–4 circulation of 340–1 experience and 81, 125n, 253, 320, 341, 421 fact as basis of 252, 297, 309 gained from discovery 80–1 Gassendi’s theory of 410 Hobbes on 298, 546, 548–9 ‘knowledge economy’ 479 Locke on 405, 420 Merton on 96 Montaigne on 557, 559, 561 new concepts of 397 no new knowledge to be had 62, 74, 78, 104 OED distinctions 420 Renaissance attitudes 73 sensation and 322 types of 323, 395n various attitudes to 321 vocabulary to be used 541–2 Wittgenstein on 23, 45 Knowledge and Social Imagery (David Bloor) 580, 589 Koch, Robert 540 Kosmotheoros (Christiaan Huygens) 234 Koyré, Alexandre coining ‘Scientific Revolution’ 16, 17, 20 ideas of place and space 19 quoted 595 science and progress 512 thought, importance of 50 Kuhn, Thomas see also Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The alternative views of science 538, 542, 543 coining ‘Copernican Revolution’ 18, 55, 145 see also On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (Nicolaus Copernicus) communication between different intellectual worlds 46n Conant and 394, 544 consensus science 346 Copernicanism triumphs 516 Copernicus and Tycho Brahe 13n Isaac on 585–6 Koyré’s influence 19 new approach of 561–2 on Newton 382 on reading outdated texts 110–11 opposition of science and technology 479 phases of Venus 246n Ptolemaic science 573 publishes on English and French approaches 425–6 quoted 251 science and progress 512–13, 541 Wittgenstein and 45 ‘Kuhn loss’ 554n la Boëtie, Étienne de 555, 556, 557 La Condition postmoderne (Jean-François Lyotard) 41 La Mettrie, Julien Offray de 439 Lactantius 81 language 42n, 46–51, 53, 63–5, 579 Lanzarote 98n Large Hadron Collider 312 Laski, Harold J. 17, 19 Late Discourse (Kenelm Digby) 293 latent heat 478 Latin Cambridge entrance requirement 15 cloud names 47 Columbus and Galileo 57–8 experience and experiment 312, 347 ‘fact’, the word 254–5, 283–4, 289, 295 Lily’s Grammar 547 ‘scientific’, the word, and 29 Latin Dictionary, A (eds.


pages: 532 words: 133,143

To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science by Steven Weinberg

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, Commentariolus, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, fudge factor, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, music of the spheres, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, retrograde motion, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Neugebauer, Astronomy and History—Selected Essays (Springer-Verlag, New York, 1983), essay 40. 4. The importance of this correlation for Copernicus is stressed by Bernard R. Goldstein, Journal of the History of Astronomy 33, 219 (2002). 5. For an English translation, see Nicolas Copernicus On the Revolutions, trans. Edward Rosen (Polish Scientific Publishers, Warsaw, 1978; reprint, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md., 1978); or Copernicus—On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, trans. A. M. Duncan (Barnes and Noble, New York, 1976). Quotations here are from Rosen. 6. A. D. White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (Appleton, New York, 1895), Volume 1, pp. 126–28. For a deflation of White, see D. C. Lindberg and R. L. Numbers, “Beyond War and Peace: A Reappraisal of the Encounter Between Christianity and Science,” Church History 58, 3 (September 1986): 338. 7.

Keys (Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1928). Cleomedes, Lectures on Astronomy, ed. and trans. A. C. Bowen and R. B. Todd (University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2004). Copernicus, Nicolas Copernicus On the Revolutions, trans. Edward Rosen (Polish Scientific Publishers, Warsaw, 1978; reprint, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md., 1978). , Copernicus—On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, trans. A. M. Duncan (Barnes and Noble, New York, 1976). , Three Copernican Treatises, trans. E. Rosen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1939). Consists of Commentariolus, Letter Against Werner, and Narratio prima of Rheticus. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, 6th ed. (John Murray, London, 1885). René Descartes, Discourse on Method, Optics, Geometry, and Meteorology, trans.


pages: 437 words: 113,173

Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance by Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dava Sobel, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental economics, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, full employment, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, Snapchat, special economic zone, spice trade, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uranium enrichment, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, zero day

Ironically, his data helped demonstrate the superiority of the Copernican model over Ptolemy’s, and hastened the former’s acceptance. Copernicus challenged the deep assumptions upon which all astronomy was based—and overturned them. The twentieth-century philosopher Thomas Kuhn coined the phrase “paradigm shift” to distinguish this special class of achievement. Because our working assumptions are deeply embedded in our thinking, such shifts are extremely difficult to make. (Copernicus’s 1543 book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, was banned by the church for over 200 years.) They’re also extremely important, since every paradigm has limits and eventually those limits must be confronted. Otherwise, progress stalls. Copernicus’s heliocentric theory had its own flaws—the sun is no more the center of the universe than the Earth is—but it took astronomy past Ptolemy and raised many new avenues of productive inquiry.

Chapter 5: Copernican Revolutions 1. Contopoulus, G. (1974). Highlights of Astronomy, Volume 3: As Presented at the XVth General Assembly and the Extraordinary Assembly of the IAU. Boston: D. Reidel Publishing Company. 2. Sobel, Dava (2011). A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos. London: Bloomsbury. 3. Copernicus, Nicolaus (1473–1543) (1995). “Introduction, Book 1.” On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. Translated by C. Wallis. New York: Prometheus Books. 4. Ferguson, Niall (2011). Civilization: The West and the Rest. London: Allen Lane; Mokyr, Joel (1990). Twenty-Five Centuries of Technological Change. London: Harwood Academic. 5. OECD (2015). In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All. Paris: OECD Publishing. 6. The Economist (2015, January 3). “Workers on Tap.”


pages: 492 words: 149,259

Big Bang by Simon Singh

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, carbon-based life, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, Copley Medal, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Hans Lippershey, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Paul Erdős, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, V2 rocket, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam

By 1541, Rheticus’s combination of diplomatic and astronomical skills was sufficient for him to obtain Copernicus’s blessing to take the manuscript to the printing house of Johannes Petreius in Nuremberg for publication. He had planned to stay to oversee the entire printing process, but was suddenly called away to Leipzig on urgent business, and so handed responsibility for supervising publication to a clergyman by the name of Andreas Osiander. At last, in the spring of 1543, De revolutionibus orbium cælestium (‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’) was finally published and several hundred copies were on their way to Copernicus. Meanwhile, Copernicus had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage at the end of 1542, and was lying in bed, fighting to stay alive long enough to set eyes on the finished book that contained his life’s work. Copies of his treatise reached him just in time. His friend Canon Giese wrote a letter to Rheticus describing Copernicus’s plight: ‘For many days he had been deprived of his memory and mental vigour; he only saw his completed book at the last moment, on the day he died.’

So the simplicity of the Sun-centred model was considered irrelevant. And for many people the Sun-centred model was still too radical even to be contemplated, so much so that Copernicus’s work may have resulted in a new meaning for an old word. One etymological theory claims that the word ‘revolutionary’, referring to an idea that is completely counter to conventional wisdom, was inspired by the title of Copernicus’s book, ‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’. And as well as revolutionary, the Sun-centred model of the universe also seemed completely impossible. This is why the word köpperneksch, based on the German form of Copernicus, has come to be used in northern Bavaria to describe an unbelievable or illogical proposition. All in all, the Sun-centred model of the universe was an idea ahead of its time, too revolutionary, too unbelievable and still too inaccurate to win any widespread support.


pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

EARTH ROTATES AROUND SUN (1514) Nicolaus Copernicus first wrote out his “heliocentric” theory of the solar system as a small pamphlet around 1514, but did not formally publish the idea for more than twenty years, for fear of the controversy it would unleash. Word of his radical theory leaked out and began spreading through the enlightened minds of Europe during that period, but the first official publication came in his posthumous text, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, published in 1543. SQUARE ROOT AND PLUS AND MINUS SYMBOLS (1525) German mathematician Christoph Rudolff invented the modern mathematical symbols “+” and “−” and “√” in Coss, the first comprehensive guide to algebra in German in 1525. CUBIC EQUATIONS AND COMPLEX NUMBERS (1530-1540) The mathematicians of the Islamic Renaissance published several important papers on the understanding of cubic equations—along with the notion of complex numbers—which are essential to determining the area and volume of objects.


pages: 244 words: 68,223

Isaac Newton by James Gleick

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Albert Einstein, Astronomia nova, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Isaac Newton, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Or the overthrow and destruction of the Aristotelian cosmology: a worldview that staggered under the assaults of Galileo and Descartes and finally expired in 1687, when Newton published a book.3 For so long the earth had seemed the center of all things. The constellations turned round in their regular procession. Just a few bright objects caused a puzzle—the planets, wanderers, like gods or messengers, moving irregularly against the fixed backdrop of stars. In 1543, just before his death, Nicolaus Copernicus, Polish astronomer, astrologer, and mathematician, published the great book De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (“On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres”). In it he gave order to the planets’ paths, resolving them into perfect circles; he set the earth in motion and placed an immobile sun at the center of the universe.4 Johannes Kepler, looking for more order in a growing thicket of data, thousands of painstakingly recorded observations, declared that the planets could not be moving in circles. He suspected the special curves known to the ancients as ellipses.


pages: 220 words: 66,518

The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles by Bruce H. Lipton

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Albert Einstein, Benoit Mandelbrot, correlation does not imply causation, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Isaac Newton, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Mars Rover, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, stem cell

There was a time when it was necessary for scientists to split from Spirit, or at least the corruption of Spirit by the Church. This powerful institution was in the business of suppressing scientific discovery when it was at odds with Church dogma. It was Nicolaus Copernicus, a savvy politician as well as a gifted astronomer, who launched the Spirit/Science split when he released to the public his profound manuscript De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres). The 1543 manuscript boldly declared that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of the “Heavenly Spheres.” This is obvious today, but in Copernicus’ time it was heresy because his new cosmology was at odds with an “infallible” Church, which had declared the Earth to be the center of God’s firmament. Copernicus believed that the Inquisition would destroy both him and his heretical beliefs, so he prudently waited until he was on his deathbed to publish his work.


pages: 624 words: 104,923

QI: The Book of General Ignorance - The Noticeably Stouter Edition by Lloyd, John, Mitchinson, John

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Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Barry Marshall: ulcers, British Empire, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Fellow of the Royal Society, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invention of the telephone, James Watt: steam engine, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, Pluto: dwarf planet, trade route, V2 rocket, Vesna Vulović

Only one of his works has survived, On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention his sun-centred theory. The reason we know about it at all is due to a single remark in one of Archimedes’ texts, which mentions Aristarchus’ theories only to disagree with them. Copernicus was certainly aware of Aristarchus because he credits him in the manuscript of his epoch-making On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. However, when the book was printed in 1514, all mentions of the visionary Greek had been removed, presumably by the publisher, nervous of it undermining the book’s claims for originality. Who invented the Theory of Relativity? It wasn’t Einstein. The theory of relativity was first stated by Galileo Galilei in his Dialogue concerning the World’s Two Chief Systems in 1632.