Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, in Thorn, Poland. He was the son of a wealthy merchant, and was raised after his father's death by a very kind uncle, who enabled him to enter the University of Krakow. It was famous for its mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy curriculum. He then studied further open-minded arts at Bologna, medicine at Padua, and law at the University of Ferrara, from which he emerged in 1503 with the P.H.D in canon law. Shortly afterward, he returned to Poland and settled at the cathedral in Frauenberg. He had been elected a canon of the church through his uncle’s influence. Copernicus not only faithfully performed his duties, but also practiced medicine, wrote a piece on monetary reform, and turned his attention to Astronomy, which he has always been interested in.
By May 1514, Copernicus had written and spread in documents his Commentarial. The first outline of those arguments was confirmed in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, 1543). This classic work challenged the geocentric cosmology that had been strictly accepted since the time of Aristotle. In opposition to Aristotle and to Ptolemy, Copernicus came up with a theory that the sun is in the center of the universe, and that the plants revolve around the sun. It’s called the Heliocentric theory.
The new theory that Copernicus espoused in De revolutionibus exhibited a strange mixture of both crucial and conservative elements. In the middle of his reordering of the structure of the universe, Copernicus still stuck to the ancient Aristotelian principles of solid celestial spheres and perfect circular motion of heavenly bodies. He stuck to the Ptolemaic representation of planetary motion of circles called epicycles. Although Copernicus realized that his theory implied an enormous increase in the size of the universe, he didn’t want to pronounce it infinite.
These aspects of the Copernican thesis did not lessen the freshness or...