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A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus…
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A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos (2011)

by Dava Sobel

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3102135,978 (3.55)45
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By 1514, the reclusive cleric Nicolaus Copernicus had developed an initial outline of his heliocentric theory-in which he defied common sense and received wisdom to place the sun, and not the earth, at the center of our universe, and set the earth spinning among the other planets. Over the next two decades, Copernicus expanded his theory and compiled in secret a book-length manuscript that tantalized mathematicians and scientists throughout Europe. For fear of ridicule, he refused to publish.

In 1539, a young German mathematician, Georg Joachim Rheticus, drawn by rumors of a revolution to rival the religious upheaval of Martin Luther's Reformation, traveled to Poland to seek out Copernicus. Two years later, the Protestant youth took leave of his aging Catholic mentor and arranged to have Copernicus's manuscript published, in 1543, as De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres)-the book that forever changed humankind's place in the universe.

In her elegant, compelling style, Dava Sobel chronicles, as nobody has, the conflicting personalities and extraordinary discoveries that shaped the Copernican Revolution. At the heart of the book is her play "And the Sun Stood Still," imagining Rheticus's struggle to convince Copernicus to let his manuscript see the light of day. ( )
  MarkBeronte | Jan 8, 2014 |
Very readable, and chocked with info on Copernicus's life as a Canon in Varmia on the Baltic, after study at U of Krakow, and at least two Italian univoersities--Bologna (canon law) and Padova (medicine. Copernicus ended up a physician who made his living as a political appointee (canon) at Varmia Cathedral, appointed by the literal nepotism of his uncle the Bishop.
But I found the play a problem, "Interplay," inserted in the middle of the book--a fictonal account of Copernicus and his Protestant fan and assistant Rheticus, as well as a few others. Perhaps it should have been attached at the end of the book; it would be less damaging, less intrusive, so.
Sobel makes just enough non-specialist mistakes to please this specialist. For example, on her very first page she refers to horoscopes and "birth certtificates" though they were not used until 1837 in the UK. No idea when in Poland. Of course, the whole thing in the Renaissance was baptism; we have Shakespeare's baptismal day, NOT his birthday, which no-one knows, though everyone celebrates it. (A typical event in popular culture.) ( )
  AlanWPowers | Oct 8, 2013 |
Dava Sobel takes what I consider a difficult subject and explains it with ease. Copernicus did not intend to publish his finding out of fear and ridicule. Rheticus, a student, may have influenced Copernicus to publish. Eventually, Rheticus did take the famous manuscript to Germany for general publication. Copericus was intimidated by the theological arguments such as Joshua's commands that the sun stand still. Copernicus model was a major rejection of the Ptolemy model; Copernicus measured movements of the planets and stars with a naked eye of the Cosmos. His observation were based on mathematic notations as he observed with an unaided eye. Just by proposing that the Earth was not the center of the Universe, he received severe censure by the Papacy. Copernicus died as his works were published but this did not slow down the efforts to suppress his book, especially by pulling it off the library shelves. This did not work! Copernicus works were obtained by other scientists such as Galileo. I don't believe that astrology ever contributed to science of astronomy. This was a lot nonsense of astrology that may have had negative influence on the real science of astronomy. I also questioned the biblical interpretation of the origins of earth and it's place in the universe. ( )
  phillund | Sep 20, 2013 |
A great read, provided the material at an understandable level and kept the reader interested in the topic. ( )
  lucasdwi | Aug 21, 2013 |
520.9
  offblack | May 9, 2013 |
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Dedication
To my fair nieces,
Amanda Sobel
and
Chiara Peacock,
with love in the Copernican
tradition of nepotism.
First words
Nicholas Copernicus, the man credited with turning our perception of the cosmos inside out, was born in the city of Torun, part of "Old Prussia" in the Kingdom of Poland, at 4:48 on a Friday afternoon, the nineteenth day of February, 1473.
Quotations
The eclipsed Moon daubed itself with the Sun's color: it glowed like an ember throughout the hour of totality, reflecting all the dusk and dawn light that spilled into Earth's shadow from the day before and the day ahead.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802717934, Hardcover)

By 1514, the reclusive cleric Nicolaus Copernicus had written and hand-copied an initial outline of his heliocentric theory-in which he defied common sense and received wisdom to place the sun, not the earth, at the center of our universe, and set the earth spinning among the other planets. Over the next two decades, Copernicus expanded his theory through hundreds of observations, while compiling in secret a book-length manuscript that tantalized mathematicians and scientists throughout Europe. For fear of ridicule, he refused to publish.


In 1539, a young German mathematician, Georg Joachim Rheticus, drawn by rumors of a revolution to rival the religious upheaval of Martin Luther's Reformation, traveled to Poland to seek out Copernicus. Two years later, the Protestant youth took leave of his aging Catholic mentor and arranged to have Copernicus's manuscript published, in 1543, as De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres)-the book that forever changed humankind's place in the universe.


In her elegant, compelling style, Dava Sobel chronicles, as nobody has, the conflicting personalities and extraordinary discoveries that shaped the Copernican Revolution. At the heart of the book is her play And the Sun Stood Still, imagining Rheticus's struggle to convince Copernicus to let his manuscript see the light of day. As she achieved with her bestsellers Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Sobel expands the bounds of narration, giving us an unforgettable portrait of scientific achievement, and of the ever-present tensions between science and faith.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:24 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Traces the story of the reclusive sixteenth-century cleric who introduced the revolutionary idea that the Earth orbits the sun, describing the dangerous forces and complicated personalities that marked the publication of Copernicus's findings.

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