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Heavenly Intrigue: Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and the Murder Behind One… (edition 2004)
Heavenly Intrigue by Joshua Gilder
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385508441, Hardcover)Johannes Kepler's laws of planetary motion rank among science's biggest ideas. But did Kepler lie, steal, or even murder for the data he needed to complete his revolutionary calculations? Joshua and Anne-Lee Gilder make this bold claim in Heavenly Intrigue, the story of Kepler's troubled relationship with Tycho Brahe. The astronomers are shown as polar opposites--Kepler the anguished, poor misanthrope and Brahe the blustering young noble on intimate terms with King Frederick II. Since the authors tip their hand early in the book, it's easy to mistake the two men's lives as predestined, their sad fates written in the stars. Kepler, the suspect, is revealed to be consumed with a "constant boiling anger" and beset by illness and unhealed sores. When Kepler and Brahe meet, it is under a dark cloud of misunderstanding that foreshadows later conflicts. Each genius offends the other, publicly and privately: Brahe, holding the money and power, makes Kepler do tedious calculations rather than sponsoring original research, while Kepler demands patronage and lusts after valuable data. When the story is done, the narrative moves quickly to the 20th century. The apocryphal tale of Brahe's demise by burst bladder is systematically countered by researchers who find toxic levels of mercury in hairs from what is presumed to be Brahe's corpse. Did Kepler, who had means, motive, and opportunity, poison Brahe? Readers will either be convinced by the end of the prologue or have lingering doubts about the case's holes that even the authors' certainty can't patch. --Therese Littleton
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:10 -0400)
"Johannes Kepler changed forever our understanding of the universe with his three laws of planetary motion. He demolished the ancient model of planets moving in circular orbits and laid the foundation for the universal law of gravitation, setting physics on the course of revelation it follows to this day. Kepler was one of the greatest astronomers of all time. Yet if it hadn't been for the now lesser-known Tycho Brahe, the man for whom Kepler apprenticed, Kepler would be a mere footnote in today's science books. Brahe was the Imperial Mathematician at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor in Prague and the most famous astronomer of his era. He was one of the first great systematic empirical scientists and one of the earliest founders of the modern scientific method. His forty years of planetary observations - an unparalleled treasure of empirical data - contained the key to Kepler's historic breakthrough. But those observations would become available to Kepler only after Brahe's death. This history portrays the turbulent collaboration between these two astronomers at the turn of the seventeenth century and their shattering discoveries that would mark the transition from medieval to modern science."--BOOK JACKET.
(summary from another edition)
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