Reader Leo was kind enough to send me a link to a clip from an episode of the TV show Adam Ruins Everything, where host Adam Conover amusingly debunks commonly held beliefs, often using animations. In this clip, he looks at the relationship between Copernicus and the Catholic Church that is often portrayed as a hostile one and uses an article of mine that I published in the December 2007 issue of Physics Today to support his case.
Amusingly, the students in the cartoon Catholic university have equal numbers of men and women, which I doubt was the case back in the 16th century.
You can read my article here.
Rob Grigjanis says
Excellent article, but I think it accepts another scientific myth;
Rob Grigjanis says
deepak shetty says
What? you mean this isn’t based on your life story ?(title song from a Bollywood movie named Singham- you have to wait for the chorus atleast..)
Reginald Selkirk says
They skipped a few details. Copernicus didn’t publish his book until just before his death (1543)
The Holy Roman Catholic Church did place Copernicus’ book on their Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Banned Books, created in 1559), but not until 1616.
You don’t get to have a list of banned books and claim to be friendly to science. The cartoon ignores the friction between the Holy Roman Catholic Church and Copernicus’ theory which developed after his death.
@RS: you omit two small but relevant details as well.
“De revolutionibus was not formally banned but merely withdrawn from circulation, pending “corrections” that would clarify the theory’s status as hypothesis. Nine sentences that represented the heliocentric system as certain were to be omitted or changed. After these corrections were prepared and formally approved in 1620 the reading of the book was permitted.”
Of course “banned” sounds so much better, even if it’s false.
“And for most people in Europe, that meant you could not get the book anywhere.”
The only problem is that huge parts of Europe weren’t catholic and hence couldn’t care less what the RCC prescribed. And that specifically included in 1620 the then most powerful country of the continent, The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, were rather the catholic bishops were banned.
If most people in The Netherlands didn’t get the book it was because they couldn’t read, couldn’t afford it or both.
Example (almost forgotten): only a few years after his infamous trial Galilei published Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche, intorno a due nuove scienze. City of publication: Leiden.
The Index was less horrific than quite a few unbelievers would wish.
@ 5 mnb0
Nine sentences that represented the heliocentric system as certain were to be omitted or changed. After these corrections were prepared and formally approved in 1620 the reading of the book was permitted.”
This is essentially what happened to Galileo in 1616 (?). He claimed heliocentricism as a fact.
I wonder if the Galileo affair motivated this editing of De revolutionibus?
The Church had no problem with heliocentrism as a “thought experiment”. It did not even have serious reservations about espousing it if and only if the proposer had damn good proof.
This, among many other things, led to Galileo’s later problems. Simply put, his theory was crap and the Church (either the Inquisition itself or the astronomers at the Pontifical Observatory) knew it.
Reginald Selkirk says
Wocka wocka. You can shut that right down until they offer some proof of talking snakes and donkeys.
Galilei published Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche, intorno a due nuove scienze. City of publication: Leiden.
I think he may have published two or three but I don’t have anything ah hand to check. All published in the Netherlands. He was careful enough not to publish in the Papal States where getting an Imprimatur might have been a bit of a touchy business.
The Index was less horrific….
Do you mean Index or Inquisition?
Wocka wocka to you. Galileo didn’t have proof of his heliocentric theory, so whatever their intolerance and their other irrationalities, the Catholic Church was entitled to say so. For one thing, he was still stuck on orbits being circles or combinations of circles; it was Kepler who came up with the idea that they were ellipses (along with various other ideas that look nutty today), and Newton who gave an explanation in terms of gravitational attraction.