He pioneered a revolution so strong that it lasts to this day. While Galileo is considered to be the first real scientist, Nicolaus Copernicus, yes, the one of the heliocentric model of the universe, was the one who started it all off!
Copernicus was the first great proponent of the theory that the Earth goes round the Sun and the Sun is the center of the Universe. This hypothesis served to explain why we see retrograde motion of the planets (meaning, sometimes, the planets like Venus seemed to go back and then again start moving forward; today this is known as epicyclic motion). His hypothesis contained little mathematical formalism and mostly comprised logical deductions from a set of seven assumptions about the ‘firmament’, Earth and Sun.
Google celebrates the 540th birthday of the pioneer with a brilliant doodle. The doodle sketches the Copernican universe having 5 bodies and the Earth revolving around a central Sun on circular paths. The moon for the Earth has also been indicated. I hope the speeds are in proper ratio but I haven’t checked that. As is usual, clicking the doodle leads you to search results for Copernicus.
Ideas and acceptance
One might have expected a wildfire-like spread of Copernicus’ idea, since it was almost universally accepted, and also severe backlash from the Church, as the basic tenet of the theory violates the geocentric view of the religious majority. None of the two happened. The idea was slow to catch on and the fact that Copernicus was a Catholic cleric – and that too an active one – helped with the latter part of the above. Copernicus himself suspected a backlash, and thus delayed publishing his ideas in a book.
It strikes me as odd how these ideas, about a quarter of a century before Galileo was accepted largely because it hailed from a Catholic cleric, while Galileo, with no direct links to the gentry, was ostracized and threatened with torture.
Science has since made giant strides. Happy Birthday Nicolaus.