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The Copernican Revolution


The Copernican Revolution A New Earth? Unit 3 - Day 3 A Paradigm Shift? In his book, The Copernican Revolution, noted historian of science Thomas Kuhn argues that ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Copernican Revolution

The Copernican Revolution A New Earth?
  • Unit 3 - Day 3

A Paradigm Shift?
In his book, The Copernican Revolution, noted
historian of science Thomas Kuhn argues that
Copernicuss work on astronomy brought about a
paradigm shift in the way people saw the
world. Question What is a paradigm?
Paradigm a way of viewing or understanding
Question How can ones paradigm shift?
Paradigm Shift Kuhn argued that a paradigm
shift occurs when a person or community is
presented with evidence that cannot be explained
by the currently accepted way of viewing or
understanding reality.
Paradigm Shift A Simulation
Paradigm Shift A Simulation 2
Note Neither of these images are paradigm
shifts. They simulate the experience by showing
how we can interpret the same information in two
different ways, and move back and forth between
the two interpretations.
Nicholas Copernicus
  • Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
  • Born in Polish city of Torun
  • Father dies when he is young, raised by uncle an
    influential bishop
  • Studies at the University of Krakow
  • Goes to Italy to earn doctorate in Law and study
  • Upon return, becomes a canon (cleric) and serves
    as an administrator for bishop
  • Dabbles in mathematics and astronomy as a hobby.
  • Makes astronomical tables based on his
  • 1510-1514 becomes involved in Church calendar
    reform formulates heliocentric theory

Heliocentric Theory
Calendar Reform
  • Problems with existing mathematical models for
    calculating calendar
  • Models are mostly accurate but require periodic
    reboots every few hundred years.
  • Mars does funky things. Aristotelian model needs
    complicated solutions.

Retrograde motion of Mars time-lapse photo
The Mars Problem
How Aristotelian astronomers explain retrograde
motion with epicycles.
For Copernicus the solution to retrograde motion
is simple the Earth (which moves) simply passes
Copernicus Discussion Questions
  • What does Copernicus think is wrong with the way
    that mathematicians have gone about solving the
    problems with the existing calendar?
  • Why does he decide to approach the problem
  • Why does he believe his model provides a better
    solution to the problem?
  • What concerns does he have about the way his
    theory will be received?
  • What does he feel is the proper relationship
    between reason and authority?

On the Revolutions (1543)
  • 1514 Copernicus distributes a pamphlet called the
    Commentaries which sketches out his conclusions
    to his friends and other mathematicians
  • 1543 finally publishes On the Revolutions on
    the Heavenly Spheres containing hundreds of
    pages of dense calculations which only
    mathematicians can read
  • Caused very little immediate controversy in
    part because it was widely seen as just a tool
    for calculation not a real system.
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