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Nicolaus Copernicus: Making the Earth a Planet

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Overview


Born in Poland in 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus launched a quiet revolution. No scientist so radically transformed our understanding of our place in the universe as this curious bishop's doctor and church official. In his quest to discover a beautiful and coherent system to describe the motions of the planets, Copernicus placed the sun in the center of the system and made the earth a planet traveling around the sun. Today it is hard to imagine our solar system any other way, but for his time Copernicus's idea was earthshaking. In 1616 the church banned his book Revolutions because it contradicted the accepted notion that God placed Earth in the center of the universe. Even though those who knew of his work considered his idea dangerous, Revolutions remained of interest only to other scientists for many years. It took almost two hundred years for his concept of a sun-centered system to reach the general public. None the less, what Copernicus set out in his remarkable text truly revolutionized science. For this, Copernicus, a quiet doctor who made a tremendous leap of imagination, is considered the father of the Scientific Revolution.

Oxford Portraits in Science is an on-going series of scientific biographies for young adults. Written by top scholars and writers, each biography examines the personality of its subject as well as the thought process leading to his or her discoveries. These illustrated biographies combine accessible technical information with compelling personal stories to portray the scientists whose work has shaped our understanding of the natural world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Numerous diagrams illustrate the concepts; additional art includes woodcuts, details from period books and paintings, and photographs.... A valuable resource."--School Library Journal

"Insightful perspective."--Booklist

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-As a man of the Church, Copernicus was never aware of the impact of his ideas on the world. After a lifetime of figuring, observing the heavens, and studying classical theories, it was finally mathematics and his quest for an elegant solution that led him to conclude that Earth was a planet orbiting the sun. The era and events in which he lived are chronicled as the authors describe Copernicus's life and efforts to explain the rotation of the planets. However, the detailed descriptions of his process and the explanations of theories are difficult, and it might take readers with an advanced degree in mathematics to understand the specifics. Numerous diagrams illustrate the concepts; additional art includes woodcuts, details from period books and paintings, and photographs. All are helpful and appropriate, but unsourced. Also, the narrative flow suffers when five titled sidebars have nothing more than a border to distinguish them from the main text; the instructions to proceed to nonsequential pages are frustrating. For students seriously interested in astronomy and how Copernicus solved the riddle of the heavens, this is a valuable resource. For those wanting an overview, this book is too complex.-Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195161731
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Series: Oxford Portraits in Science Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Harvard University

Ryerson Polytech Institute, Toronto (Emeritus)

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