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Monthly Archive: April 2005

Apr 29 2005

The rise of Catholic objections to Copernican ideas

(For those following the Copernican postings in sequence, I made a mistake. Today’s posting should have appeared BEFORE the one that dealt with The role of Protestant opposition to Copernicus. Sorry about that!) The last myth that I will address concerning the Copernican revolution is that it met immediate, widespread, and religious opposition from the …

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Apr 28 2005

Having fun with telephone representatives

Once in a while, I look in on the site Jesus’ General which is a parody website that is hard to describe but is often hilarious. It was the most recent winner of the Koufax Award for Most Humorous Blog. Recently, the General posted an item about a telephone conversation that someone named Eugene Mirman …

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Apr 27 2005

The reading level of this blog

I came across an interesting website recently. You type in the URL of any site and it comes back immediately with various measures of the site’s readability, including the years of education necessary to understand it, its clarity, and so forth. It also provides comparisons on these indices with various standard media such as newspapers …

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Apr 26 2005

The role of Protestant opposition to Copernicus

For many years after the publication of Copernicus’ book De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium in 1543, his ideas remained within the mathematical astronomy community. The more popular books on astronomy and cosmology either were unaware of his work or chose to ignore them. But there were a few non-astronomers such as poets who were aware of …

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Apr 25 2005

The myth concerning circular orbits

In this posting we will examine the myth that the Copernican revolution was hampered by its insistence that the orbits be circles. To understand the reasons behind this we need to look at the work of an influential, but often unrecognized, player in the Copernican revolution, the astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). He is considered the …

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Apr 22 2005

Copernicus’ ideas gain support from a few astronomers

As astronomical observations became more comprehensive, and as sea-faring became more widespread, the need for better star-charts in order to have more accurate time-keeping and navigation became imperative. In order to meet this demand for increased accuracy, the method of epicycles outlined by Ptolemy became more and more complicated, and was extended in different ways …

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Apr 21 2005

Copernicus and the laws of physics

In a previous post, we saw that the popular notion that the Copernican model of the universe was opposed because it implied a demotion for human beings is not supported by close examination of the views of the people actually living in those times. It is, instead, a revisionist version of events that gained ascendancy …

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Apr 20 2005

Was the Copernican model a demotion for human beings?

In this post, we will look at one particular myth surrounding the Copernican story, the one that says that Copernican ideas were opposed because they implied a demotion for human beings. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) published De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium, his epic work describing a heliocentric system, in 1543 the year of his death. Until then, …

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Apr 19 2005

Looking closely at scientific history

Since I started looking more closely into the history of science, there are two things that I have learned that I have recast into principles. The first is that the more closely we examine important historical events in science, the less resemblance they bear to the popular condensed capsule versions that are learned in school …

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Apr 18 2005

The myth about Columbus and the shape of the Earth

In his April 3, 2005 New York Times column called It’s a Flat World, After All, Thomas Friedman begins: In 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail for India, going west. He had the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. He never did find India, but he called the people he met “Indians” and came home …

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