When in 2005 Polish archaeologists led by Jerzy Gassowski found fragments of a skeleton tentatively identified as the remains of the 16th-century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, some doubts remained. Now, in this issue of PNAS (1), these issues are resolved with high confidence through DNA analysis.
Nicolaus Copernicus was, literally, the man who invented the solar system. He noticed that by rearranging the circles of the ancient Ptolemaic system so that each planet, including the Earth, moved around the Sun, something beautiful happened. The fastest-moving planet, Mercury, revolved closest to the Sun; the slowest, lethargic Saturn, came at the outer fringe of his planetary system; and the others neatly arranged themselves by period. In no other arrangement, Copernicus exclaimed, do we find such a harmonious relation between the size of the orbit and the planetary period (2).
- Gingerich, Owen (2009). The Copernicus grave mystery. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(30), 12215-12216.
Peoples: - | Places: - | Topics: Nicolaus Copernicus | DNA Type: mtDNA