Friday, November 21, 2008

May you rest in peace, Nicolaus Copernicus

Many of you probably know that the name of this blog, The Sidereal Messenger, is based upon the world-shaking publication by Galileo Galilei, in which he made it clear to the Christian world that Earth was not the center of the universe, much less the center of our own solar system, among other inisights.

Galileo may have never been fascinated with the new invention called the telescope had it not been for one extraordinary man: Nicolaus Copernicus, who first expounded a scientific explanation for heliocentrism and began, arguably, the scientific revolution. Copernicus' efforts also gave legitimacy to the scientific method, causing a sort-of big bang in scientific discovery after his death in 1543.

When Copernicus died 500 years ago, his grave was left unmarked (Imagine Einstein's grave going unmarked in modern times!). But yesterday, researchers confirmed that the identity of remains in a Catholic cathedral in Frombork, Poland, are indeed Copernicus'. Interestingly, geneticists gave the final confirmation by taking bone and teeth specimens from the remains and comparing them to hair found in a book in Copernicus' library. Match! How's that for modern science and sleuthing?!

At long last, we know where resides the man who started a mental revolution, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln's greeting of Harriet Beecher Stowe during the Civil Way.

May the genial, hard-working, brilliant Nicolaus Copernicus rest in peace.

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