"Mikołaj Kopernik"

I miejsce - Katarzyna Kobeszko, klasa 11

III miejsce - Karolina Palac, klasa 9

                                                            Mikolaj Kopernik            

        There is a Polish saying, “Wstrzymał słonce, ruszył ziemie” that many know and children use to remember the important accomplishment of famous astronomer Mikolaj Kopernik. The saying roughly translates to “He stopped the sun, moved the Earth,” which is a simple explanation of Kopernik’s discoveries in astronomy. Of course, in the United States he is known by the name Nicolaus Copernicus. In history class, when children learn about the astronomer who changed history, they learn he is a Polish scientist who developed the heliocentric theory. And that is all they learn. To be fair, that is what he is famous for, but to Polish people he accomplished more than that. He is a symbol of polish accomplishments; he put Poland’s name in the history books. He was a scholar, a translator, a medic, an artist, a canon in the church, and most importantly, loyal to the Polish crown.

    Nicolaus Copernicus was born on 19 February 1473 in Thorn (Torun), Poland to a merchant and local official. When he was ten years old, his father died and his uncle ensured that he received a good education. Copernicus first began his studies in 1491 at Krakow Academy, now the Jagiellonian University. His studies there gave him a thorough grounding in the arts and mathematics. It is also there that he developed his interest in astronomy and became familiar with the popular teachings of Aristotle and Averroes. In 1496, Copernicus travelled to Italy to further his studies in astronomy and mathematics, as well as to study canon law. During his three years as a student at the University of Bologna, Copernicus learned from a mathematics professor, Domenico Maria de Novara, who encouraged his ideas in astronomy and geography. In the year 1500, he travelled to Rome and studied at the universities of Padua and Ferrara. He returned to Poland in 1503. For the next seven years, he worked as a secretary to his uncle, and when the uncle died in 1512, Copernicus moved to Frauenberg, where he held a position as a

canon. His first written work was Commentariolus, which describes the theory that if theSun stands still, and the Earth is in motion, then the other planets fall into a relationship where their sidereal periods (time it takes to circle the Sun) increase moving away from the sun. Kopernik is most known for his famous book, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), in which he develops the heliocentric theory of the solar system, that the sun is at the center, and the Earth revolves around it. Copernicus hesitated for a staggering 36 years to publish his theories. This was not because he feared contradicting the Catholic Church, but because he felt his work was incomplete. In fact, there was much he didn’t have in his work, but what he did publish would be the start of a new age.

    Mikolaj Kopernik’s discoveries were revolutionary. His work created the foundation of the modern layout of the solar system. However, not many supported his work initially. The church struggled to accept the theory, which lacked evidence from scripture, eventually banning the book in 1616. Even the renowned Martin Luther ridiculed Copernicus’ theory. But that did not stop other scientists from investigating his work. In 1609, Galileo Galilei found the first proof of Copernicus’ theory when he saw moons revolving around Jupiter. And what a grand discovery this was in the world of science, even if it wasn’t acknowledged too largely. The work that Kopernik brought forth into the world was the beginning for the discoveries that would change the model of layout of the universe. Kopernik was the first to combine astronomy, mathematics, and physics to create a solid theory about the universe. But the heliocentric theory doesn’t even come close to explaining the full significance of Kopernik’s work. He started what is referred to as a Copernican Revolution in scientific thinking that would continue for years. All his theories and works come together to create a new cosmological theory called the Genuin

Copernican Cosmological Principle. The most important point of Kopernik’s model was that the Earth has three central rotations: a daily axial motion, annual motion around the sun, and third relating to procession. His influence on scientists such as Galileo throughout the ages is amazing. Of course, it is impossible to know if Galileo would have studied and found evidence of the heliocentric theory if he had not been introduced to it by Kopernik’s work. However, Kopernik sparked a revolution in scientific thinking that Galileo was a part of. Think of all the discoveries made about the universe. The big bang theory, the modern solar system, the discoveries of other galaxies, stars, meteors. Man even made it to space, walked on the moon. And this push in thinking all started with Copernicus. The science world honors Kopernik in many ways. The chemical element Copernicium is named after Kopernik, having the symbol Cn and the atomic number 112, as well as a crater on the moon named after him. In addition, there is the Kopernik Science Center in Warsaw, Poland, the Mikolaj Kopernik Planetarium in Nuremburg, Germany, and the Kopernik Observatory & Science Center in Vestal, NY, USA. Copernicus is a name that will always be remembered and tied to astronomy and discoveries in the universe.

    Mikolaj Kopernik is also a name with strong and clear Polish roots. To the Polish people, Kopernik is a name that brings a magnitude of pride to the country and everything it has been able to fight through. In Poland, not only was Kopernik an astronomer and mathematician, but also dedicated to the church. He served as a Canon for the church throughout his lifetime. It is thanks to the church that Copernicus was able to explore many fields of study. As a Polish subject, he was loyal to the crown. When he was alive, the Polish-Teutonic War was raging (from 1519-1521). The Prussian Kingdom was a part of the Polish nation and Copernicus was a leader of West Prussia in the War against the Teutonic Knights. He also led the Royal Polish defense forces of Olsztyn in the war. Having education in the medical field, he was a physician for the Bishop and consulting physician for nobles in East and West Prussia. Also, outside of astronomy, Kopernik focused on monetary reform and wrote manuscripts on coinage. His works were largely analyzed and consulted by various leaders of Prussia and Poland. His works in this field would later be known as Gresham’s law and sometimes as Copernicus Law. It is an idea that many economies use and nations refer to. It explains the idea of “bad money” driving out “good money”, or that when you have two of the same monetary values, but one made from a cheaper material and one of more valuable material, the cheaper one will be used and the more valuable one will be taken out of circulation. Copernicus was accomplished in far more than just the astronomical field, and is greatly praised by the Polish people. In Poland, there are countless schools named after him. There are also streets, apartment buildings, hospitals, housing estates. Monuments appear throughout the country, including one in his home city of Thorn, where his family home is also now a museum to visit, and a Trail of Copernicus that leads you across many cities in which the astronomer worked during his life. His image appeared on 10-zlotys coins in 1959, 1965, 1967, 1968 and 1969, as well as on the 100-zloty banknote in 1965 and 1982. Polish people feel inspired by Kopernik, because he truly achieved so much on his lifetime. He is a great inspiration to the Polish people because he has done so much for the country.

    When Copernicus died in 1543, his book De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium was just published. However, he was very sick, and it is believed that as he died, he was holding a published copy of the book. Kopernik never got to see the effects of his work on the world. He was buried in Frombork Cathedral in Thorn, Poland. However, until recently, it was unsure where is grave was. In 2008, researchers found a skull in Frombork Cathedral that did belong to Nicolaus Copernicus. Scientists matched DNA from the skull to DNA on a book that belonged to the astronomer, proving that they were his remains. The remains were blessed with holy water by high-ranking clerics and re-buried, the grave marked with a tombstone that has an engraving of the solar system. This second honorary funeral of Kopernik marks another advancement for people in Poland and across the world. It proves that science and faith can be reconciled and live in harmony. Because religion is of deep importance to a large majority of Polish people, Kopernik is a symbol of great accomplishments in respect to the church as well. Even after his passing, Kopernik will continue to be the source of revolution and new beginnings for people.

    Copernicus is a name that is not heard as often in classes, and is not given too much attention. He has accomplished many advancements and discoveries in astronomy that we consider today as common knowledge. That the Earth revolves around the Sun, that gravity keeps planets orbiting the Sun, are things we know as facts. Mikolaj Kopernik was a man of many talents and aspirations that laid the foundation for modern astronomy. His discoveries would have great impacts throughout the ages. He will forever be greatly remembered. To the Polish people, his name reaches beyond his astronomical accomplishments. He was a canon in the Church, a physician, and fought bravely for the Polish crown. He is unquestionably a scholar who, quite literally, reached for the stars. There is great pride in being of the same nationality as a man who was unequivocally a trailblazer for the human race in scientific advancements and a search for knowledge that will never be forgotten.


    •    Redd, Nola Taylor. “Nicolaus Copernicus Biography: Facts & Discoveries.” Space.com, Space.com, 20 Mar. 2018, www.space.com/15684-nicolaus-copernicus.html.

    •    Westman, Robert S. “Nicolaus Copernicus.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Nicolaus-Copernicus.

    •    Rabin, Sheila. “Nicolaus Copernicus.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 30 Nov. 2004, plato.stanford.edu/entries/copernicus/.

    •    “International Space Hall of Fame :: New Mexico Museum of Space History :: Inductee Profile.” New Mexico Museum of Space History, www.nmspacemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.php?id=123.

Copernicus- A Polish Pioneer

Nicholas Copernicus is one of the most recognizable Poles in the world. By far his greatest achievement was proving that the planets in our solar system, including Earth, orbit the Sun. Copernicus was the first to gather information on this subject and made countless mathematical calculations in order to create a solid foundation for his findings. This discovery was so influential, that it became the basis for developments in other scientific fields during the Renaissance. It truly changed many people’s perspective of the universe with a great amount controversy and backlash, because it was previously believed that the sun revolves around the Earth, not the other way round.

    The distinguished astronomer was born in Torun, Poland on February 19, 1473. He studied at the historic Jagiellonian University in Krakow and then later continued his studies in Italy, the heart of the Renaissance. His theory of heliocentrism, though widely believed today, was not as openly accepted at the time of discovery. His book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, which was written in Latin, was published after his death in May 24, 1543 in Frombork. The book was rejected by the Catholic Church, as well as the Lutheran religion. The young astronomer was heavily influenced by his uncle, a Prince-Bishop, who was his guardian due to the death of Copernicus’ parents. In fact, while he was in Italy, he studied topics surrounding the Catholic Church and was to become a canon, like his uncle. He worked as a physician and secretary for his uncle, though not taking orders as a priest. He was very diligent in his astronomical studies. His life was dedicated to space and the stars that he studied night after night, in hopes of finding some groundbreaking discovery.

     Copernicus faced the unknown, but he knew how to expertly deal with it. He undertook intricate engineering, scientific, and logical challenges with his simple and independently designed equipment. His patience was out of this world! Copernicus’ research was conducted over a time span that lasted several decades. He experienced many failures throughout, but persisted and was ready for the next series of challenges to come his way. His passion and courage allowed him to develop an impeccable understanding of the world and the universe it is a part of. He was constantly looking for solutions. He meticulously collected data, checked his work, analyzed his findings, and drew conclusions. He was doing what he loved and what he was truthfully interested in, and that’s why he did it well. In today’s world, scientists have the help of modern digital devices, electronics, and the Internet. Copernicus did not have those luxuries. Also in today’s world, science is based on the exchange of experience and of knowledge between scientists through various conferences, workshops, and courses. By sharing his new found information, Copernicus was actually considered a heretic. His work was even on the list of banned books due to its conflicting and unbelievable contents. But he continued diligently. He drew conclusions, made mistakes, learned from his errors, and made more deductions. He was truly a model scientist.

     Copernicus inspires people everywhere to observe, ask questions, and search for answers. We are living in the 21st century - significant advances in science and technology, as well as their direction, are difficult to predict. The changes that have and will occur require an open mind and a willingness to learn. The ability to think critically will also prove useful. Few people in Copernicus’ time had such an open demeanor and were eager to accept his theory as the truth. However, scientists of the Renaissance did not cease to make equally as important findings. They strayed from the “facts” they were told to believe and dared to defy the major forces of the time that chose to ignore evidence, just as Copernicus had done. 

     Last year, as a reward for my academic successes and active participation in the Polish community, I was selected for a two-week camp in Poland, called "The Footsteps of Copernicus." The camp allowed me to expand my knowledge on the life of the famous scientists and fully understand the significance of his vital discoveries. My learning was enhanced through sources, such as the Planetarium in the name of Copernicus in Olsztyn, where the scientist spent some of his life. During my time in the Planterium, I was overjoyed to discover that you can easily move through a virtually created space full of awe-inspiring stars, planets, and moons. The spectacle that I saw in the Copernican Observatory & Science Center allowed me to move to the most distant corners of the universe by simply keeping my eyes open.

    Until I did some of my own investigating, I was unaware that Poland had made its own contributions in space research- 3 Polish satellites "Światowid" were launched into space until last year. The satellite is used in the observation of the Earth for commercial purposes. During my visit at the Center, the space enthusiasts there explained that the satellite launch was a huge advancement for the Polish space industry. I was able to visit the Center with my father. Together, we participated in the lecture of a well-known Sun researcher, who displayed their abundance of astronomical knowledge. In a very comprehendible manner, Prof. Rudawy explained how he investigates areas of the Sun associated with cosmic weather. In his work, he uses data gathered by satellites and observations made with modern telescopes. He also conducts research on the total dimming of the Sun. And all this would not have been possible had it not been for Copernicus, because it was him who:

“Stopped the Sun and moved the Earth""

    Copernicus’ discovery gave way to the development of technology and, therefore, increasingly accurate astronomical observations. These improvements make it possible to fill "white spots" in science research. For example, astronauts are constantly discovering new planets outside the Solar System and expanding their apprehension of the infinitely immense universe. I also learned that the measurement of the immenseness of the universe is underway.

    Like my older sister, who graduated in neuroscience at the Binghamton University, I aspire to experiment and actively explore the ever-puzzling universe. Copernicus encourages observation and mobilizes us to search for the greater meaning of topics that we may not have fully grasped. I dream of going into space- setting off from the Earth's surface into the great, complex abyss that is our Solar System. When I acquire enough information about space, I plan on submitting applications to become an astronaut. Maybe I will be able to work at NASA and truly follow in some of the footsteps of the great Copernicus. Like him, I am genuinely perplexed by the enormity and mystery of the universe and long to find some closure. Is there really life on other planets? Could we live on Mars? Are there other solar systems like the Milky Way? These are some questions I would like to play a role in answering. Perhaps, I could even solve the mystery of the Star of Bethlehem.

    My Polish school organized a trip to Philadelphia two years ago. On that trip, I saw a beautiful sculpture that honored Copernicus on the 500th anniversary of his birth in 1973. Sculptor Dudley Talcot represents the Sun with a stainless steel disk and the Earth's orbit with a 16 foot ring. The monument was truly a site to marvel at. We admire breathtaking monuments only for a moment at a time, but we remember them all throughout your life. The sculpture was one of those monuments that you will remember and admire for years to come.

     Copernicus is not just known for his breakthroughs in astronomy. His name is sometimes borne by banks and other financial institutions because Copernicus developed a monetary reform in Prussia. Furthermore, select bakeries bear his name because he developed the new recipe for bread. He was also a renowned doctor, whose medical recommendations concerning topics such as weight loss have been preserved and followed to this day. It is no wonder that the University of Toruń, where Copernicus was born, also bears his name.

     While conducting research, I came across a nonprofit organization called "Kopernik." The organization goes the extra mile to distribute technology that connects people to remote parts of the world. It is a testament to the Copernicus’ mission of reducing poverty while simultaneously incorporating his fascination with technology. I was very interested in their prepositions and stumbled upon these beautiful words;

"  ..We can all take initiative - titles don't matter.

If we see a problem, rather than complaining about it,

We will suggest and take action on a better way to do things.

We treat others how we would like to be treated.

Our namesake Nicolaus Copernicus change the way people see the word".

    Copernicus makes the world a better place and inspires us to take steps in order to preserve our marvelous Earth and the universe beyond it.

Polska Szkola Doksztalcajaca

im. Henryka Sienkiewicza

Karolina Palac

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