A More Perfect Heaven
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A More Perfect Heaven : How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos

By (author) Dava Sobel

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By 1514, the reclusive cleric Nicolaus Copernicus had written and hand-copied an initial outline of his heliocentric theory-in which he defied common sense and received wisdom to place the sun, not the earth, at the center of our universe, and set the earth spinning among the other planets. Over the next two decades, Copernicus expanded his theory through hundreds of observations, while compiling in secret a book-length manuscript that tantalized mathematicians and scientists throughout Europe. For fear of ridicule, he refused to publish.In 1539, a young German mathematician, Georg Joachim Rheticus, drawn by rumors of a revolution to rival the religious upheaval of Martin Luther's Reformation, traveled to Poland to seek out Copernicus. Two years later, the Protestant youth took leave of his aging Catholic mentor and arranged to have Copernicus's manuscript published, in 1543, as "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium "("On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres")-the book that forever changed humankind's place in the universe.In her elegant, compelling style, Dava Sobel chronicles, as nobody has, the conflicting personalities and extraordinary discoveries that shaped the Copernican Revolution. At the heart of the book is her play "And the Sun Stood Still," imagining Rheticus's struggle to convince Copernicus to let his manuscript see the light of day. As she achieved with her bestsellers "Longitude" and "Galileo's Daughter," Sobel expands the bounds of narration, giving us an unforgettable portrait of scientific achievement, and of the ever-present tensions between science and faith.

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  • Hardback | 273 pages
  • 144.78 x 213.36 x 27.94mm | 385.55g
  • 27 Sep 2011
  • Walker & Company
  • New York, NY
  • English
  • black & white illustrations, maps
  • 0802717934
  • 9780802717931
  • 220,607

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Author Information

Dava Sobel is the acclaimed author of the internationally bestselling titles "Longitude, " "Galileo's Daughter," "The Illustrated Longitude," and "The Planets." She lives in East Hampton, New York.

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Review quote

"Ms. Sobel is an elegant stylist, a riveting and efficient storyteller, a writer who can bring the dustiest of subjects to full-blooded life -- poignant, in the case of Galileo; cautious but also loving, loyal and feisty in the case of Copernicus." --Katherine Bouton, "New York Times" "Lively, inventive...a masterly specimen of close-range cultural history. Ms. Sobel certainly brings Copernicus to life, perhaps better than any other author. Ms. Sobel presents a thoroughly researched and eminently readable account of a major scientist who celebrated the sun yet lurks in the shadows." - "The Wall Street Journal" "Dava Sobel describes [Copernicus's] life and his legacy in her enjoyable "A More Perfect Heaven..".[A] delightful immersion into tumultuous times...All this history is just the background for the heart of Sobel's book: the meeting of the aged Copernicus with the young German mathematician Georg Joachim Rheticus, who had heard of Copernicus's ideas and traveled to Poland for a first-hand account. Rheticus stayed, helped Copernicus finish his treatise and, four years later, shepherded it through its first printing...We'll never know precisely how Rheticus convinced Copernicus to finally set it all in print, but, as Sobel shows, we certainly owe him gratitude, for these manuscripts are treasures of our world, tracing our first steps out into an understandable cosmos." --Mike Brown, "Washington Post ""The new work by science writer Dava Sobel, author of "Longitude" (1995) and "Galileo's Daughter" (2000) is half-narrative, half-drama -- and it's all enthralling, all illuminating. As in her previous bestselling books, Sobel... turns the history of science into a great story filled with fascinating characters, excruciating near-misses and the sudden splendor of the new discovery...A More Perfect Heaven is the story of how a young German mathematician named Rhetiucs finally persuaded Copernicus to publish his outlandish theory. Their relationship is t

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