Radical Copernicus

Page 1 of 2

Radical Copernicus

By | October 2013
Page 1 of 2
During and before the 1600’s, Copernicus’ idea that the earth is not the center of the universe was considered to be radical (and even ridiculous) for three main reasons – firstly, it had no consilience with accepted facts regarding the universe; secondly, it had a lot of observed flaws; and lastly, it was in contradiction to the religious beliefs of the Catholic Church. 


Back in 400 BC, a Greek Philosopher in the name Plato set up a goal “to save the appearances”. This meant that it should be every researcher’s goal to try to explain the motions of the heavenly bodies in terms of circular motion. In pursuit of this goal, many astronomers used devices such as auxiliary spheres, the eccentric, epicycles, deferents, and the equant to show that all the heavenly bodies are in fact, circling the earth. Despite being rather complicated, these devices were still able to make sense of the planetary motions. As a result, the geocentric model was accepted as fact. By the 1500’s, any educated man, explaining the natures and functions of such devices, would tell you that the planet earth in reality IS the center of the universe in the same way it is true that 1 + 1 = 2.

A polish astronomer and mathematician named Nicolaus Copernicus during the 1500’s challenged this accepted geocentric theory of the universe. He claimed that the Earth is just another planet that rotates by itself, and that the Moon is in orbit around the Earth, not the Sun. He also claimed that the stars are merely distant objects that do not revolve around the Sun. This explanation made sense and was simpler, but the other scientists at the time saw several flaws in the idea. First, they claimed that the movement of the earth was impossible because there was no variation on the location (star parallax) or the size of the stars above. Second, they argued that the earth mustn’t have been rotating because there is no breeze felt because of the motion. In the same way, things do not just fly off to...