Copernicus: How much of what you know about the controversy around his sun-centred model of the universe is history?
|January 7, 2014||Posted by News under News, Astronomy|
Remember Copernicus? Originally, that guy (1473–1543) who developed a sun-centred (heliocentric) model of the solar system – in his day, the known universe. Later, his name fronted a theory according to which Earth should not be considered unusual, but he had nothing to do with that.
It’s no surprise his name got attached to a theory that originated five centuries later. a theory he probably wouldn’t have agreed with. Almost everything most of us know about him and the conflict that developed around his model is wrong, but convenient for propaganda purposes.
A recent article in Scientific American, by Dennis Danielson and Christopher M. Graney, offers history:
Most scientists refused to accept this theory for many decades—even after Galileo made his epochal observations with his telescope.
Their objections were not only theological. Observational evidence supported a competing cosmology—the “geoheliocentrism” of Tycho Brahe.
The article is paywalled, but this paper, which Danielson delivered as a lecture to physicists in 2001 (later published in the American Journal of Physics), provides a good, non-paywalled beginning:
For more than three centuries scientists, historians, and popularizers of science have been repeating the claim that Copernicus ‘‘dethroned’’ earth from its ‘‘privileged’’ central position in the universe. However, a survey of pre-Copernican natural philosophy ~which viewed the earth as located in a cosmic sump! and of Copernicans’ own account of the axiological meaning of the new heliocentric astronomy ~which exalted earth to the dance of the stars! demonstrates that the cliché about earth’s ‘‘demotion’’ is unwarranted and fit to be discarded. © 2001 American Association of Physics Teachers. @DOI: 10.1119/1.1379734#
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