heliocentric universe

One of the most persuasive arguments for the idea that the sun moves around the earth was the complete absence of stellar parallax.

That is, the Ancient Greeks realized that if the earth moves, the stars should appear to change position relative to one another. But this doesn’t happen: they appear absolutely fixed in position.

There are, then, only two possible explanations:

  1. The earth doesn’t move.
  2. The stars are absurdly far away, vastly further away than the earth-sun distance. Which was calculated with reasonable accuracy through trigonometry.

Of course, it turned out to be the latter—but that wasn’t obvious at the time. Though Archimedes considered it a viable theory and uses the volume of the universe under heliocentrism as an example of a really huge number (as Scott Aaronson points out in a great article).

In fact, stellar parallax was not actually discovered—and therefore, in a sense heliocentrism was not fully proven—until 1838. (Of course, Newtonian physics implies that the earth must orbit the sun, but if they had not found the required stellar parallax, there would have been a big problem.)

Copernicus says “Notice that, in fact, the sun is the center of the universe!” and Feliks “What? That’s impossible. You cannot be serious, Mikołaj, everyone knows that Earth, more precisely Poland, is the center of the universe.”

Nicolaus Copernicus (Polish: Mikołaj Kopernik; 19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe (Heliocentrism). (…) Copernicus was born and died in Royal Prussia, a region that had been a part of the Kingdom of Poland since 1466. He was a polyglot and polymath who obtained a doctorate in canon law and also practiced as a physician, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, and economist (Wikipedia).

Nicolaus Copernicus - the first person to come up with the mathematics for a heliocentric theory of the universe (technically, the Greek astronomer Aristarchus proposed a sun centered universe back in ancient times, but Copernicus developed it further and jumpstarted the scientific revolution in Europe). In addition to his work and astronomy, he practiced medicine and had a doctorate in canon law.

And just look at him :D

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

The father of Heleocentrism, who died almost immediately after the publication of his book “on the revolutions of these heavenly spheres”. His death is cause for a little curiosity due to the fact that the catholic church openly opposed his work as it was against much of what they taught at the time(the earth was said to be the center of the known universe). Oh well, Galileo proved he was right with a telescope so suck it I guess.