Copernicus' Secret by Jack Repcheck
How the Scientific Revolution Began

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Nicolaus Copernicus gave the world perhaps the most important scientific insight of the modern age, the theory that the earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. He was also the first to proclaim that the earth rotates on its axis once every twenty-four hours. His theory was truly radical: during his lifetime nearly everyone believed that a perfectly still earth rested in the middle of the cosmos, where all the heavenly bodies revolved around it.

One of the transcendent geniuses of the early Renaissance, Copernicus was also a flawed and conflicted person. A cleric who lived during the tumultuous years of the early Reformation, he may have been sympathetic to the teachings of the Lutherans. Although he had taken a vow of celibacy, he kept at least one mistress. Supremely confident intellectually, he hesitated to disseminate his work among other scholars. It fact, he kept his astronomical work a secret, revealing it to only a few intimates, and the manuscript containing his revolutionary theory, which he refined for at least twenty years, remained "hidden among my things."

It is unlikely that Copernicus' masterwork would ever have been published if not for a young mathematics professor named Georg Joachim Rheticus. He had heard of Copernicus' ideas, and with his imagination on fire he journeyed hundreds of miles to a land where, as a Lutheran, he was forbidden to travel. Rheticus' meeting with Copernicus in a small cathedral town in northern Poland proved to be one of the most important encounters in history.

Copernicus' Secret recreates the life and world of the scientific genius whose work revolutionized astronomy and altered our understanding of our place in the world. It tells the surprising, little-known story behind the dawn of the scientific age.

About Jack Repcheck

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Jack Repcheck is an acquiring editor at W. W. Norton with a long career in publishing great works of science. He holds an M.A. degree in Irish Social History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lives with his wife and five children in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Published December 4, 2007 by Simon & Schuster. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Repcheck emphasizes that Copernicus was one of the first thinkers who looked at the world without preconceptions and set down what he observed.

Dec 01 2007 | Read Full Review of Copernicus' Secret: How the S...

Kirkus Reviews

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A fine biography of the obscure cleric who demonstrated that the earth was not the center of the universe.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Copernicus' Secret: How the S...

The New York Times

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Copernicus was hiding his heliocentric theory and, it seems, a mistress too.

Jan 13 2008 | Read Full Review of Copernicus' Secret: How the S...

Cape Ann Beacon

There’s what we know about Nicolaus Copernicus, and what we think we know.

Apr 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Copernicus' Secret: How the S...

So the discussions of both events feel like distractions, especially when Repcheck provides almost no descriptions of the advancements Copernicus actually made in his work.

Apr 30 2008 | Read Full Review of Copernicus' Secret: How the S...

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