Researchers think they found the body of Copernicus. This raises many questions for me.


To begin, the article identifies Copernicus as the guy "whose theories identified the Sun, not the Earth, as the center of the universe."

I'm no astronomer, but I'm pretty sure our sun isn't the center of the universe either. The current thinking is that the sun is the center of our solar system. Apparently Copernicus died in vain. I wonder if his skeleton was spinning in its grave when it was discovered.

I also wonder what the researchers plan to do with his body. I recommend attaching a generator to his bones and then reading the Yahoo News report to them once a day. That should solve our energy problem.

I wonder if Polish law allows you to buy a guy's skeleton if there are no known relatives to claim it. That would make a great conversation piece for some billionaire. If I owned them I would hang them from a moving track around my office so Copernicus always revolved around me when I worked. And I would refer to my office as the universe, because apparently that word can mean anything.

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +10
  • Print
  • Share
  • Share:


Sort By:
Dec 2, 2008
You're so right!!!

Haven't you noticed how revolutionaries always leave a loophole in their ideas?? I mean, seriously. Like,whats-his-name would have solved our food crisis that would occur sometime in 2050 if he could simply just give us his formula for turning wine into water.

Or was it the reverse?

...who cares? It was highly inconsiderate of him not to share his success with the rest of the world anyway. In my very humble opinion, he deserved to be hanged.

Oh, wait, somebody already done that. Oh well, I guess great minds think alike.
Nov 23, 2008
To still think that the earth or the sun is the sum and center of anything is, of course, somewhat solipsistic. The Renaissance placed man, “the measure of all things,” at the center of all things. More recently, so did proponents of the anthropomorphic principle: the only universe we can occupy is one we are in, i.e, if it were any different, no human would occupy it: thus, the earth around the sun, the sun, at the fringe of the Milky Way, around a black hole, the black hole around perhaps another black hole, wheels around wheels around wheels, etc.

Still some have striven to attain both, not just a personal but universal consciousness, viz.:

Like a geometer wholly dedicated to squaring the circle, but who cannot find, think as he may, the principle behind it, so did I study the supernal face. I yearned to know just how our image merges into that circle and how it finds its place; but mine were not the wings for such a flight. Yet, as I wished, the truth I wished for came splintering my mind in a great flash of light. Here my powers rest from their high fantasy, but already I could feel my being turned—instinct and intellect balanced equally as in a wheel whose motion nothing jars—by the love that moves the sun and the other stars (The Divine Comedy, Dante Aligieri, The John Ciardi Translation, pg. 601, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, London, 1977)

I think that to achieve both (if that’s the goal—three and one may still be only me), more than a little humility is required. We don’t know everything yet. Given a couple of million years, who knows? We may get there yet.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 21, 2008
"I'm no astronomer, but I'm pretty sure our sun isn't the center of the universe..."

Ah, actually, since Einstein proved that spacetime is curved, the sun IS considered the center of the universe, as is every other point in the universe. Imagine the surface of a three dimensional sphere (such as the surface of the earth, for example). Can you locate the center of that surface? No. Or, another way of looking at it is that EVERY point is its center. Now try to imagine (it's impossible, I know; but you can SORT OF get the idea) the surface of a four dimensional sphere in that same way. Every point in the universe is as far away from the "edge" as every other point, since, really, the universe has no edge. It's finite but boundless, sort of a way of saying infinite without really meaning it.
Nov 21, 2008
Apparently, Copernicus was also an actor and played the old dude in "Babe". How he got on a PETA ad is beyond me:

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 21, 2008
To expound on my2k's assertion that he/she is the center of the universe:

The size and shape of the universe is a product of our observations. Our observations are based on the electro-magnetic radiation that we can observe with the instruments we have - a variety of telescopes. The universe is continually expanding, from our point of view, partly because we have better and better instruments that can detect light and radiation from father and farther away. Now, if you imagine that "line of sight" extending out radially in all directions, the resulting shape is a sphere that is centered on the point of observation - the earth. So, in this manner of thinking, the earth really is the center of the universe.

And, it is possible to model everything in the universe as revolving around the earth. What Copernicus was able to show, even though he didn't think of it this way, is that the mathematics of the orbital mechanics of the solar system are much easier to work out if you take the sun as the static point in the equation, rather than the earth. In point of fact, you can pick any point anywhere in the universe as your static starting point and work out all the mathematics for the orbital mechanics of everything from that point. That is the principal of relativity at work.
Nov 21, 2008
If the DNA of the skeleton matched that from 2 of 4 hairs found in a book, it could be his butler. It's a theory in some circles that it was really Copernicus' butler Ferd who came up with the theory but then quickly blamed it on the master when he discovered how upset the church got.

Besides, if the skull has scar on the left side, it wouldn't match the one in the picture anyway. Unless the Europeans have a different left than we do in the US of A.

And how accurate can the facial reconstruction be if the only had half a skull? It's not like they were starting without a destination in mind and it's entirely possible that subconsciously the reconstruction artist ended up in the place they wanted to go.
Nov 21, 2008
C'mon dude, try harder, you are plagiarising yourself again. We had Dilbert powering the company HQ off the company founder's bones in a similar manner. Next you'll be doing the cat / buttered toast generator thingy.

Still, I guess if it's funny you have got to make the most of it.
Nov 20, 2008
DILGAL stole my line. I wanted to say that I would bid on your "funny bone" after you die, but I guess she got dibs on it. Can I bid on another bone?

Still here for anyone who cares. Don't check here -- still sick. No, rest easy. I won't bore you.

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 20, 2008
Scott to be fair, at the time of Copernicus people think that the solar system is everything we have in the universe. The planets are the real celestial bodies and all other stars and galaxies are just twinkling light attached to the crystal celestial sphere, an idea developed by Aristotle. So although Copernicus might not have gotten it "right", he's one of the very foundation of the Scientific Revolution played out in the 16th century.
Nov 20, 2008
Gee, Scott, I thought you were the center of the universe.

Only kidding.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 20, 2008
Nah, Scott, good idea, but useless. Polish are very protective of their dead bodies. Lithuania tried to claim (for less sensible reasons than green energy) the body of Czeslaw Milosz, who won Nobel prize for literature for poetry, devoted to Lithuania. No luck.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 20, 2008
While you're probably right that a bone-headed journalist got it wrong, it may not be so. If the prevailing wisdom at the time was that the universe consisted of the earth, the sun, a few planets, and a bunch of stars painted on to the vault of heaven, then proving that the earth revolves around the sun is the same thing as proving that the universe revolves around the sun.
Nov 20, 2008
Copernicus thought the sun was the center of the universe, whereas previously most people thought the Earth was the center of the universe. These people constructed complicated models to justify the planets strange meanderings around the sky. Copernicus' model simplified all these paths into simple ellipses, which makes much more sense. Of course, whether or not ANYWHERE is "the center of the universe" is only a matter of opinion. The only relevance is how easy it makes the models to work with, and therefore how easy it is to make predictions, and Copernicus paved the way to making sense of the universe.

As far as Copernicus spinning in his grave ... you took that expression waaaaay too far.
Nov 20, 2008
I think the link didn't come through. Trying !$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!
Nov 20, 2008
I think it was mentioned (or alluded to) earlier, but Copernicus never had much in the way of conflict with the Catholic church. For perspective and a brief-but-thorough historical treatment, I !$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$%
Nov 20, 2008
@mlimber: There are actually several Bible passages that reference the sun revolving around the earth (rather than the reverse, which is more in tune with scientific understanding): Psalm 93:1, Psalm 19:1-6, and Joshua 10:12-14. Indeed, it was not just the Catholic church that came out against Copernicus: Martin Luther himself argues (on the basis of these passages) that Copernicus had to be wrong.

Of course, most educated people these days do not take the Bible to be a scientific work, whether or not they are Christians, but it would not surprise me if there are wingnuts out there who take the above passages literally, just as they take both of the (mutually contradictory) creation stories in Genesis literally. A lot of people don't realize this, but in one version God made man first, then the animals, then woman; in the other version he made the animals first, then man, then woman.
Nov 20, 2008
"I wonder if his skeleton was spinning in its grave when it was discovered.

I also wonder what the researchers plan to do with his body. I recommend attaching a generator to his bones and then reading the Yahoo News report to them once a day. That should solve our energy problem"

i think this was a cartoon at one point.....
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 20, 2008
"I wonder if Polish law allows you to buy a guy's skeleton if there are no known relatives to claim it."
I'm pretty sure it doesn't. We're kinda civilised, watching MTV and stuff, you know.

0 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 20, 2008
Not to bust Copernicus's bubble or anything, but if the universe is infinite, then I'm the center of the universe. Since it is the same distance from me to any point on the outer edge of the universe, clearly I'm the center of an infinite sphere (or similar n dimensional construct). My life has been much better eversince I realized this. Of course if the universe isn't infinite...
Nov 20, 2008
"I'm no astronomer, but I'm pretty sure our sun isn't the center of the universe either. The current thinking is that the sun is the center of our solar system."

Actually what Copernicus disproved was that the earth was at an axis of rotation around which all other celestial bodies rotated, as the earth itself rotated around that big bright thing in the sky. The inevitable mixup that occurs when this gets misrepresented annoys me to no end.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog