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The impact of the Heliocentric Theory Heliocentric: Relating to the sun as a
center; appearing as if seen from the sun's center.(Webster,447) The
heliocentric theory was first introduced to the world by a Polish astronomer
named Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus published his views on the heliocentric
theory in his book Commentariolus, in 1514, which sparked the time period now
known as the Copernican Revolution. Heliocentrism was proven true by the
discoveries of Galileo, Kepler, and Newton; through their efforts to prove the
validity of the heliocentric theory people began to find truth in science
through experimentation rather than religion with no proof. Many scientists went
through great ordeals for their scientific beliefs, thus making the heliocentric
theory the most electrifying idea in human history. Ancient people's believed in
Gods and deities for causes to nature and the unexplained. Once the fourth
century BC rolled around, people began to see "astronomical phenomena"
as "natural compound products of simple operations repeated in
perpetuity" rather than the actions of Gods. (Morphet, p.6) Greeks did not
revere celestial bodies very strongly in their religion, despite having deities
for the Sun and Moon. (North, p.78) Different peoples beliefs varied greatly in
ancient times. Different countries progressed in thought at different speeds.
During the Renaissance, many began to "toss aside medieval preoccupations
with supernatural forces and turned to secular concerns" like fame. (Yamasaki,
p.50) With the "Age of Discovery," people began to think for
themselves and ponder truths through philosophy, science, astronomy, astrology,
etc. Philosophers' minds began to turn, the human mind was finally awake. Plato,
a famous Greek philosopher, believed stars were Gods that the creator gave life
to. This view was very influential and proved to be sort of a religion for
intellectual idealists, no longer for the populace. At the time, the thought of
heavenly bodies being divine, and stars being eternal objects in unchanging
motion were common knowledge. Thinking otherwise was considered Atheistic.
(North, p.78) Fellow famous Renaissance man, and Plato's pupil, Aristotle, was
also a very important figure. Born in Stagira in 384, Aristotle is regarded as
the most influential ancient philosopher of the sciences. Aristotle refined
Callippus' geometrical and spherical concepts, and developed the geocentric
theory, which was believed for two thousand years. (North, p.80) Aristotle
believed that the sphere is the most perfect figure because when rotated to any
diameter it occupies the same space; and that circular motions are a sign of
perfection, which is why Heaven is considered divine. The spherical nature of
the Earth and Universe according to Aristotle, is the natural movement of
Earthly matter from all places downwards, to a center, around which a sphere of
matter will build up. "Only circular motion is capable of endless
repetition without a reversal of direction, and rotary motion is prior to linear
because what is external, or at least could have always existed, is prior, or at
least potentially prior, to what is not." In Aristotle's book De Caelo (On
the Heavens), he speaks of the celestial sphere, the Earth's center being the
same shape, and dismissing the idea of the Earth rotating at the center of the
universe. He also dismisses the idea of an orbital motion of the Earth. (North,
p.81) Contradicting Aristotle, Heracleides, an astronomer, believed in the
rotation of the Earth on it's axis and is known to be the earliest astronomer to
stand by it. He was thought to have taken the first step in "Copernicanism."
It is believed in the years to follow that Copernicus was said to have mentioned
Heracleides' name in this connection. (North, p.85) Aristarchus of Samos was the
first astronomer to clearly put forth a true sun-centered theory, learned from
Archimedes. (North, p.85) "...Aristarchus' hypotheses are that the fixed
stars and the Sun are stationary, that the Earth is carried in a circular orbit
around the Sun, which lies in the middle of it's orbit, and that the spheres of
fixed stars, having the same center as the Sun, is so great in extent that the
circle on which the Earth is supposedly carried is in the same ratio to the
distance of the sphere has to its surface." (North, p.85-6) If Aristarchus
did believe in heliocentrism, he still could not prove the differences in the
Earth's motion and seasons, which explains its failure to be accepted. (North,
p.86-7) Although scientists such as Eudoxus, Callippus, and Aristotle all came
up with Earth-centered systems based by providing a center for all motions,
Ptolemy was triumphant for he was able to explain sphere sizes and achieved a
single system, which was not