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SCIENCE HERO:
NICOLAUS COPERNICUS
by Michelle from Everson

A painting of Nicholas Copernicus
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus)

Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Torun, Poland, in 1473, and he was a Polish astronomer and mathematician. He first studied astronomy and astrology at the University of Krakow. After completing college and studying medicine for a while, he began to analyze the principle of uniform circular motions, the Ptolemaic system, and he later began to criticize them. After researching and examining the Ptolemaic system, Nicolaus was able to develop his own system for how the planets move.

When Copernicus started looking at the previous models of the universe he didn’t believe that the Earth could be the center. His calculations and observations didn’t match those of previous scientists who claimed that the Earth was the center of the universe. There had to be something else that all the planets orbited around. His calculations didn’t agree with the previous equations that “proved” Earth to be the center.

After studying for a couple of years, Copernicus was the first astronomer to propose that the planets orbit around the sun, the sun being the fixed point. He was also able to propose that planet Earth orbits the sun annually, as well as turns once daily on its own axis. Nicolaus proposed the heliocentric or “sun-centered” system. After making this heliocentric system, Copernicus was also able to order the planets from the sun out. His church and community didn’t believe what his findings proved.

Copernicus' model of how the planets are ordered
(http://www.conservapedia.com/images/
thumb/0/0e/Copernicus_system.gif/300px-Copernicus_system.gif)

A man named Georg Joachim Rheticus, who was a professor of mathematics at the University of Wittenberg, visited Copernicus and Rheticus later published the Narratio Prima, which reported Copernicus’ heliocentric theory. After the book was published, Rheticus asked Copernicus to publish a full account of his findings and theory. Copernicus died from a brain hemorrhage two months after his new book was published.

I truly think that Nicolaus was a hero because he was the first person to be able to figure out that the Earth is not the center of the universe. He figured out that the planets all orbit around the sun, and that the Earth orbits once daily on its axis. Without Nicolaus’ contribution to science, it would have taken people much longer to understand that the planets to not orbit around the Earth.


Written by Michelle from Everson
Last changed on: 6/7/2010

Nicolaus Copernicus

PBS.org Copernicus' Universe

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy For more about the life and works of Nicolaus Copernicus

The Copernican Model

KidsNewsroom.org A Virtual Journey Into the Universe

Crystal, E (January 24, 2008). Nicholas Copernicus. Retrieved January 24, 2008, from Crystal Links Web site: http://www.crystalinks.com/copernicus.html

University Of Tennessee, (1/24/2008). The Copernican Model. Retrieved January 24, 2008, from Dept. Physics & Astronomy for the University of Tennessee Web site: http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/retrograde/copernican.html


Copernicus'' Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began
by Jack Repcheck
 

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