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Diagram of the universe by Thomas Digges
The reason for this delay was that, on the face of it, the heliocentric cosmology was absurd from a common-sensical and aphysical point of view. Thinkers had grown up on the Aristotelian division between the heavens and the earthlyregion, between perfection and corruption. In Aristotle's physics, bodies moved to their natural places. Stones fellbecause the natural place of heavy bodies was the center of the universe, and that was why the Earth was there. AcceptingCopernicus's system meant abandoning Aristotelian physics. How would birds find their nest again after they had flown fromthem? Why does a stone thrown up come straight down if the Earth underneath it is rotating rapidly to the east? Since bodies canonly have one sort of motion at a time, how can the Earth have several? And if the Earth is a planet, why should it be the onlyplanet with a moon?

For astronomical purposes, astronomers always assumed that the Earth is as a point with respect to the heavens. Only in thecase of the Moon could one notice a parallactic displacement (about 1°) with respect to the fixed stars during its (i.e., the Earth's) diurnal motion. In Copernican astronomy onenow had to assume that the orbit of the Earth was as a point with respect to the fixed stars, and because the fixed stars did not reflect the Earth's annualmotion by showing an annual parallax    , the sphere of the fixed stars had to be immense. What was the purpose of such a large spacebetween the region of Saturn and that of the fixed stars?


These and others were objections that needed answers. The Copernican system simply did not fit into the Aristotelian wayof thinking. It took a century and a half for a new physics to be devised to undegird heliocentric astronomy. The works inphysics and astronomy of Galileo and Johannes Kepler were crucial steps on this road.

There was another problem. A stationary Sun and moving Earth also clashed with many biblical passages. Protestants andCatholics alike often dismissed heliocentrism on these grounds. Martin Luther did so in one of his "table talks" in1539, before De Revolutionibus had appeared. (Preliminary sketches had circulated in manuscriptform.) In the long run, Protestants, who had some freedom to interpret the bible personally, accepted heliocentrism somewhatmore quickly. Catholics, especially in Spain and Italy, had to be more cautious in the religious climate of the Counter Reformation    , as the case of Galileo clearly demonstrates. Christoph Clavius , the leading Jesuit mathematician from about 1570 to his death in 1612, usedbiblical arguments against heliocentrism in his astronomical textbook.

The situation was never simple, however. For one thing, late in the sixteenth century Tycho Brahe devised a hybrid geostatic heliocentric system in which the Moon and Sun went around the Earth but the planets went around theSun. In this system the elegance and harmony of the Copernican system were married to the solidity of a central and stableEarth so that Aristotelian physics could be maintained. Especially after Galileo's telescopic discoveries,many astronomers switched from the traditional to the Tychonic cosmology. For another thing, by 1600 there were still very fewastronomers who accepted Copernicus's cosmology. It is not clear whether the execution of Giordano Bruno , a Neoplatonist mystic who knew little about astronomy, had anything to do with his Copernicanbeliefs. Finally, we must not forget that Copernicus had dedicated De Revolutionibus to the Pope. During the sixteenth century the Copernican issue was not consideredimportant by the Church and no official pronouncements were made.

Galileo's discoveries changed all that. Beginning with Sidereus Nuncius in 1610, Galileo brought the issue before a wide audience. He continued his efforts, ever moreboldly, in his letters on sunspots, and in his letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (circulated in manuscript only) heactually interpreted the problematical biblical passage in the book of Joshua to conform to a heliocentric cosmology. Moreimportantly, he argued that the Bible is written in the language of the common person who is not an expert inastronomy. Scripture, he argued, teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. At about the same time, Paolo Antonio Foscarini , a Carmelite theologian in Naples, published a book in which he argued that the Copernican theory did not conflictwith Scripture. It was at this point that Church officials took notice of the Copernican theory and placed De Revolutionibus on the Index of Forbidden Books until corrected.

Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief WorldSystems of 1632 was a watershed in what had shaped up to be the "Great Debate." Galileo's arguments undermined thephysics and cosmology of Aristotle for an increasingly receptive audience. His telescopic discoveries, although they did not prove that the Earth moved around the Sun, added greatly to his argument. In the meantime, Johannes Kepler (who had died in 1630) had introduced physical considerations into the heavens and hadpublished his Rudolphine Tables , based on his own elliptical theory and Tycho Brahe's accurate observations, and these tables were more accurate by far than any previous ones. The tide now ran in favor of theheliocentric theory, and from the middle of the seventeenth century there were few important astronomers who were notCopernicans.

Questions & Answers

Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
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Source:  OpenStax, Galileo project. OpenStax CNX. Jul 07, 2004 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10234/1.1
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