(February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543)

Although Renaissance began in Italy, most of the renaissance-era mathematicians were non-Italians. Among the greatest of these was Nicolaus Copernicus. He was a Catholic Canon and physician (of Polish origin), who learned from the great works of Alhazen Ibn al-Haytham and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. As the foremost European astronomer, Copernicus championed the then risky but accurate notion of the sun being the center of the solar system: with all the other planets orbiting it. His masterpiece, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium which was published in the early 1540s, (and translates to: The Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) is one of the epoch-making publications in the entire history of science. Its heliocentric theme was a direct contradiction of the millennium-old Geocentric Theory, which had been adhered to since the days of Claudius Ptolemy. It would later influence Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and a long list of others. Copernicus was also a polymath and a polyglot whose literary contributions stretched into wide areas such as: law, medicine, religion, philosophy, economics, science and mathematics. Although his reputation as a gutsy scientist is often cited, it is worth noting that he was extremely brilliant and versatile. The depths of his works, especially their analyses and conclusions, said a lot about the agility of his mind. Hence, it is no surprise that his sagacity compares favorably to those of Gottfried Leibniz and René Descartes. A crater on the moon, another one on mars, as well as several colleges are named after Copernicus.


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