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The Copernican Revolution

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 Although Copernicus’ idea of a moving earth was not entirely original, the idea of moving earth never became a paradigm in astronomy prior to him. Also, Copernicus’ extensive work on the subject combining mathematics, physics and other sciences ultimately swayed other scientists to make further studies on the subject. As a matter of fact, it was the subsequent works of Galileo Galilei and Thomas Kepler which solidified the revolutionary nature of the Copernican theory some fifty years after his death and publication of his book De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium. These scientists contributed theories that furthered the heliocentric view and convinced the entire scientific theory of the falsity of the Ptolemaic system.

Kepler’s work validated the heliocentric theory and at the same time perfected it by proposing that Mars move in an elliptical orbit and the formulation of the law of equal areas, totally discarding the cycles and epicycles of the Ptolemaic system.
On the other hand, Galileo enhanced the Copernican system by solving some of the problems that hampered its ultimate acceptance to the scientific community. One of the objections to the Copernican theory was that the system of mechanics belied the proposition that the earth is moving from east to west. A ball, for example, if dropped from a tower should fall, according to Copernican oppositionists, to the west of the tower when it finally settles on the ground if the Copernican theory is true. Galileo proposed the inertia theory which posits that “a body in motion continues to move in uniform velocity until something external operates to change it.” The inertia theory, in effect, answers the object relative to motion against the Copernican theory.
The revolutionary character of the Copernican theory, as subsequently validated and perfected by Galileo and Kepler, is further proven by its incommensurability with the Ptolemaic system. The Ptolemaic astronomy subscribed to a universe that revolves around a static Earth while Copernicus proposed a universe where a static sun is a center and all planets revolve around it.

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preview essay on The Copernican Revolution
  • Pages: 4 (1000 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Astronomy
  • Level: Masters
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