Moving Heaven and Earth

Copernicus and the Solar System

John Henry
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When Copernicus claimed that Earth was not stationary at the centre of the universe, he brought about a total revolution in scientific thought. This is the story of that revolution.

When Nicolaus Copernicus claimed that the Earth as not stationary at the centre of the universe but circled the Sun, he brought about a total revolution in the sciences and consternation in the Church - a twin upheaval that would eventually lead to the trial of Galileo before the Inquisition in Rome. His astronomical theory demanded a new physics to explain motion and force, a new theory of space, and a completely new conception of the nature of our universe.

But that wasn't all. The theory that moved heaven and earth also showed for the first time that a common-sense view of things isn't necessarily correct, and that mathematics - no matter how abstract it might seem - can and does reveal the true nature of the material world. No other single innovation could have had the same far-reaching consequences in sixteenth-century society, where pure knowledge was thought to rest only in surviving fragments of Ancient wisdom.

Copernicus sowed the seed from which science has grown to be a dominant aspect of modern culture, fundamental in shaping our understanding of the workings of the cosmos. In this book, John Henry not only explains how these changes followed upon Copernicus's theory, but also reveals why, in the first place, Copernicus was led to such a seemingly outrageous and implausible idea as a swiftly moving Earth.

Author bio:

John Henry did a Ph.D. at the Open University and is now a Senior Lecturer at Edinburgh University. He mostly works on the history of interactions between science, medicine, magic and religion in the Renaissance period.

Category: Popular science
ISBN: 9781840462517
Table Of Contents: Contents


1 You'd Have to Be Crazy to Say the Earth Moves

Science or insanity?

Nothing new under the Sun

Astronomy rules, OK?

2 Why Did Copernicus Say the Earth Moves?

Heavenly orbs

Science or art?

Ptolemy and the decline of cosmology

How to avoid a crisis: the medieval stand-off

How to create a crisis: Nicolaus Copernicus, cosmologist

3 Who Was Copernicus?

Why Copernicus?

Life and times

Renaissance man

Renaissance mathematician

4 What Was the Reaction?

Small beginnings

Copernicus and the astronomers

Copernicus and the Churches

Copernicus and the Aristotelians

5 What Difference Did it Make?

A world of difference

One physics or two?

How the Earth moves

Space: the final frontier

6 Last Words


Further Reading
Publisher: Icon Books
Imprint: Icon
Pub Date: July 2001
Page Extent: 160
Format: Paperback
Age: 0 - 0
Subject: Popular science