There were many scientists and philosophers during this time period, Francis Bacon, René Descartes, John Locke, Nicolaus Copernicus, Isaac Newton, and Adam Smith to name a few....
Hipparchus was another ancient Greek who considered heliocentrism but,because he never guessedthat orbits were ellipses rather than cascaded circles, was unable to comeup with a heliocentric model that fit his data.)Aryabhata, Alhazen, Alberuni, Omar Khayyám, (perhaps some otherIslamic mathematicians like al-Tusi), and Regiomontanus areother great pre-Copernican mathematicians who may have acceptedthe possibility of heliocentrism.
Because the Ptolemaic system enjoyed the endorsement of not only scholars, but also of the church, Copernicus, in fear of trial for heresy, long hesitated to announce his heliocentric view.
(Ptolemy's model predicted phases, but timed quite differently fromGalileo's observations.)Since the planets move without friction, their motions offer a pureview of the Laws of Motion; this is one reason that the heliocentricbreakthroughs of Copernicus, Kepler and Newton triggered the advancesin mathematical physics which led to the Scientific Revolution.
(Nicole Oresmeand Nicholas of Cusa were pre-Copernican thinkers who wrote on boththe geocentric question and the possibility of other worlds.)The Copernican perspective ledGiordano Bruno and Galileo to posit a single common set of physical laws which ruled both on Earth and in the Heavens.
This rank, much lower thanthat of Copernicus, Galileo or Newton, seems to me to underestimate Kepler'simportance, since it was Kepler's Laws, rather than just heliocentrism,which were essential to the early development of mathematical physics.
For this revolution, Copernicus is ranked #19 on Hart's Listof the Most Influential Persons in History; however I thinkthere are several reasons why Copernicus' importance may be exaggerated:(1) Copernicus' system still used circles and epicycles, so itwas left to Kepler to discover the facts of elliptical orbits;(2) he retained the notion of a sphere of fixed stars,thus missing the unifying insight that our sun is one of many;(3) Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), who built on Copernicus'discovery, was a better and more influential scientist,anticipating some of Galileo's concepts;and (4) the Scientific Revolution didn't really get underwayuntil the invention of the telescope, which would have soonled to the discovery of heliocentrism in any event.
Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikolaj Kopernik) was a polymath:he studied law and medicine;published poetry; contemplated astronomy;worked professionally as a church scholar and diplomat;and was also a painter.
Kepler, Galileo and Newton were strong proponents to the Copernican model and continued to advance his research where they later proved that a heliocentric solar system was a correct model....
Marjorie Nicolson, in "The Breaking of the Circle," argues that the heliocentric system greatly influenced the metaphysical poets, especially John Donne, as it necessarily mated the concept of a universal macrocosm with the pr...
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No matter what comes to mind when Copernicus is said, it is important to learn who Nicolaus Copernicus was, and why he was such an influential man in history.
For his experimental methods and discoveries,his laws of motion, and for (eventually) helpingto spread Copernicus' heliocentrism, Galileo may have beenthe most influential scientist ever; heranks #12 on Hart's list of the Most Influential Persons in History.