(February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543)

Although Renaissance began in Italy, most renaissance-era mathematicians were non-Italians. Among the best of these was Nicolaus Copernicus. He was a Catholic Canon and physician (of Polish origin), who learned from the works of Alhazen Ibn al-Haytham and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. As the foremost European astronomer of his era, 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, The Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres which he barely lived to see published in early 1543, (and was dedicated to Pope Paul III), remains among epoch-making publications in the entire history of science. Its heliocentrism directly contradicted the millennium-old geocentrism, which had been adhered to since the days of Claudius Ptolemy. And it later inspired the works of Tycho Brahe, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and several others. As a polymath and polyglot, his ideas stretched into fields that include: literature, commerce, jurisprudence, medicine, theology, philosophy, ethics, administration, astronomy and mathematics. Although his reputation as a gutsy scientist is often cited, it is worth noting that he was extremely brilliant and meticulous. The depths of his works, especially their analyses and conclusions, said a lot about the agility of his mind. Hence, it is understandable that his sagacity were compared to those of Aristarchus (of Samos) and Johannes Kepler. Alongside several concepts and memorials, the 93-kilometer-wide Copernicus lunar crater, the 300-kilometer-wide Copernicus Martian crater, and the 1322 Coppernicus asteroid are dedicated to him.

16 Comments

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