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Nicolaus Copernicus

Vocabulary of the text

Cosmology - космология

Epiphany – богоявление, крещение

Landmark – межевой знак, веха, поворотный пункт

Cleric – духовное лицо, церковник

Axis - ось

Precession - прецессия

Equinox - равноденствие

At rest – в покое, неподвижный

To resolve the disagreement – разрешать разногласие

Pestilence – бубонная чума, мор, эпидемия ,поветрие

Incoherency – несвязность, бессвязность, непоследовательность

Nicolaus Copernicus was the first astronomer to formulate a scientifically-based heliocentric cosmology that displaced the Earth from the center of the universe. His epochal book "On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres” is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy and the defining epiphany that began the Scientific Revolution.

Although Greek, Indian and Muslim savants had published heliocentric hypotheses centuries before Copernicus, his publication of a scientific theory of heliocentrism, demonstrating that the motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting the Earth at rest in the center of the universe, stimulated further scientific investigations and became a landmark in the history of modern science that is known as the Copernican Revolution. Among the great polymaths of the Renaissance, Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, classical scholar, translator, Catholic cleric, jurist, governor, military leader, diplomat and economist. Copernicus proposed that the planets have the Sun as the fixed point to which their motions are to be referred; that the Earth is a planet which, besides orbiting the Sun annually, also turns once daily on its own axis; and that very slow, long-term changes in the direction of this axis account for the precession of the equinoxes. This representation of the heavens is usually called the heliocentric, or "Sun-centred”.

According to a later horoscope, Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, in Torun, a city in north-central Poland on the Vistula River south of the major Baltic seaport of Gdansk. His father, Nicolaus, was a well-to-do merchant, and his mother, Barbara Watzenrode, also came from a leading merchant family. Nicolaus was the youngest of four children.

In the Commentariolus, Copernicus postulated that, if the Sun is assumed to be at rest and if the Earth is assumed to be in motion, then the remaining planets fall into an orderly relationship whereby their sidereal periods increase from the Sun as follows: Mercury (88 days), Venus (225 days), Earth (1 year), Mars (1.9 years), Jupiter (12 years), and Saturn (30 years).

This theory did resolve the disagreement about the ordering of the planets but, in turn, raised new problems. To accept the theory's premises, one had to abandon much of Aristotelian natural philosophy and develop a new explanation for why heavy bodies fall to a moving Earth.

It was also necessary to explain how a transient body like the Earth, filled with meteorological phenomena, pestilence, and wars, could be part of a perfect and imperishable heaven. In addition, Copernicus was working with many observations that he had inherited from antiquity and whose trustworthiness he could not verify. In constructing a theory for the precession of the equinoxes, for example, he was trying to build a model based upon very small, long-term effects. And his theory for Mercury was left with serious incoherencies.

It was not until Kepler that Copernicus's cluster of predictive mechanisms would be fully transformed into a new philosophy about the fundamental structure of the universe.

Exercise 10. Answer the questions:

  1. Who is Nicolaus Copernicus?

  2. Describe the theory of heliocentrism.

  3. What scientific fields was Nicolaus Copernicus interested in?

  4. When and where was Nicolaus Copernicus born?

  5. Do you know anything about the scientist”s parents?

Exercise 11. Give the English equivalents to the following expressions:

научно обоснованный, Вселенная, стартовая точка, эпохальный, гелиоцентрические гипотезы, расследование, Возрождение, переводчик, современная наука, физик, ежегодно, зажиточный, гороскоп, главный морской порт, самый младший, в движении, увеличиваться, разногласие, в свою очередь, новое объяснение, тяжёлые тела, движущаяся Земля, в добавление, античность, верифицировать, основанный на, оставшиеся планеты

Exercise 12. Give the Russian equivalents to the following expressions:

Muslim savants, motions of celestial objects, putting the Earth at rest, the center of the universe, landmark, classical scholar, the fixed point, orbiting the Sun, long-term changes, precession, a leading merchant family, an orderly relationship, the theory's premises, transient body, imperishable heaven, cluster, predictive mechanisms.

Exercise 13. Read the following words and say what Russian words help to understand their meaning:

theory, hypothesis, correlate, test, deduction, result, experiment, atom, nature, crystal, substance, regular, interpret, systematic, argument, structure.

Exercise 14. Give the initial forms of the following words and find them in the dictionary:

starting, defining , centuries, scientific, investigations, mathematician, daily, representation, later, central, youngest, orderly, sidereal, disagreement, explanation, imperishable, predictive.