Today is the 540th birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus, author of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium which, for the first time in history, placed the Sun in the center of the universe with all other planets revolving around it. Until he mathematically proved this theory, all thought the Earth to be at the center.
Sometime between 1510 and 1514 [Copernicus] wrote an essay that has come to be known as the 'Commentariolus,' which introduced his new cosmological idea, the heliocentric universe." At
the time, the prevailing theory, codified by the 1st century
philosopher Ptolemy, was geocentrism – the belief, in short, that all
celestial bodies revolve around the earth. Undertaking an extensive
analysis of the path of the planets overhead, Copernicus argued that in
fact it was the sun that was at the center of the solar system.
His work drew the ire of the Catholic Church and of Martin Luther himself, but in the end Copernicus proved to be correct. His theory ushered in the Scientific Revolution which was the beginning of modern science.
During a Roman Catholic ritual in 2010, his remains
were interred beneath the altar of Frombork Cathedral in northern
Poland, where the astronomer had been the canon (head priest) and where
he originally was buried in 1543.The
exact location of his grave had been lost and his remains were not
conclusively identified until 2005, through the use of modern DNA