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Heaven on Earth: How Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo Discovered the Modern World

Heaven on Earth: How Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo Discovered the Modern World

by L. S. Fauber


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A vivid narrative that connects the lives of four great astronomers as they discovered, refined, and popularized the first major scientific discovery of the modern era: that the Earth moves around the Sun.

Today we take for granted that a telescope allows us to see galaxies millions of light years away. But before its invention, people used nothing more than their naked eye to fathom what took place in the visible sky. So how did four men in the 1500's—of different nationality, age, religion, and class—collaborate to discover that the Earth revolved around the Sun? With this radical discovery that went against the Church, they created our contemporary world—and with it, the uneasy conditions of modern life.

Heaven on Earth is an intimate examination of this scientific family—that of Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei. Fauber juxtaposes their scientific work with insight into their personal lives and political considerations, which shaped their pursuit of knowledge. Uniquely, he shows how their intergenerational collaboration was actually what made the scientific revolution possible.

Ranging from the birth of astronomy and the methods of early scientific research, Fauber reveals the human story that underlies this civilization altering discovery. And, contrary to the competitive nature of research today, collaboration was key to early scientific discovery. Before the rise of university research institutions, deep thinkers only had each other. They created a kind of family, related to each other via intellectual pursuit rather than blood.

These men called each other “brothers,” “fathers,” and “sons,” and laid the foundations of modern science through familial co-work. And though the sixteenth century was far from the an open society for women, There were female pioneers in this “family” as well, including Brahe's sister Sophie, Kepler’s mother, and Galileo's daughter.

Filled with rich characters and sweeping historical scope, Heaven on Earth reveals how the strong connections between these pillars of intellectual history moved science forward—and how, without them, we might have waited a long time for a heliocentric model of the universe.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643132044
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 12/03/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 717,127
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

L. S. Fauber attended Bard College and is completing a PhD in Computer Science at University of California Riverside. L. S. teaches Computer Science and Physics and lives in Riverside, California.

Table of Contents

Introducing the Stars xi

Nicolaus Copernicus 1

Nicolaus in the Old World 3

The Fall of the House of Watzenrode 13

In Opposition 16

The First Copernican 22

The First Account 25

The First Dissent 26

The Second Account 29

Postmortem 34

Tycho Brahe 37

New Stars 39

A Burdensome Privilege 42

Hven 49

Urania Through the Years 50

Treasures on the Broken Road 59

The Parvenu 64

Goodbye to All That 67

The Outside World 68

A Letter Received 72

Johannes Kepler 75

Fathers, Sons, Ghosts 77

The Theological Turn 82

Judgment 88

A Letter Sent 90

The Need for Harmony 92

The Eyes of the Bear 95

Two Families 96

Lunacy 103

Reversals of Fortune 106

The War on Astronomy 109

Ascension 114

Galileo Galilei 119

Descent 121

Upon Leaving the Top of the Arc 123

Pupils 126

Horky's Odyssey 131

Their Rekindled Friendship 138

The Naming of Things 139

The New Man 142

Their Dying Friendship 147

The Renaming of Things 150

First Signs of Night 154

The Animals 158

Wine and Women 162

Two Winters and a Spring 172

The Other Side of the Door 179

A Bad Memory 186

A Dove 187

A Tongue of Fire 189

Death and the Garden 192

The Changing Tides 195

Works of His Golden Years 198

A Family Man 212

The Dialogue 214

The Teacher 219

Lacunae 226

Life Inside a Box 227

The Four Last Things in Cruel Disorder 231

Appendix: Seven Vignettes From the New Astronomy 239

Reader's Bibliography 257

Notes 265

Index 327

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