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Heaven on Earth : how Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo discovered the modern world
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Science and technology
Scientific discoveries
Science history
- International
Time Period
-- 16th Century
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Trade Reviews
Publishers Weekly Review
Fauber, a UC-Riverside PhD student in computer science, seamlessly merges biography, history, and science in this amazing look at the four 16th-century astronomers whose work revealed the heliocentric solar system. Fauber opens with Nicolaus Copernicus, whose love for astronomy diverted him from a planned church career and led him to question whether Earth was at the center of the universe. Fauber then moves to Tycho Brahe, who built on Copernicus's work while using his royal patron's resources to build a lavish observatory. A fan letter introduced Brahe to Johannes Kepler, an eager young astronomer who would use Brahe's observational data to invent astrophysics and show that the planets traveled in elliptical orbits around the sun. Armed with Kepler's findings and his hand-built telescope, Galileo saw the moon's terrain, and the moons of Jupiter. In addition to these four figures, Fauber brings 16th-century Europe--when plagues scoured the populace, religious controversies could get one burned at the stake, and a wealthy patron made the difference between success and anonymity--to life. Rich with detail, this is an extraordinary saga of stubborn scientific curiosity, and of the first inklings of this planet's true place in the universe. Agent: Luba Ostashevsky, Ayesha Pande Literary. (Dec.)
Kirkus Review
Four scientists collaborate in the quest to understand the heavens.In the 1500s, there was scant cooperation among scholars of different countries: Books and papers were slow to travel, and great discoveries sometimes remained unrecognized for decades. Computer scientist Fauber focuses on four founding fathers of modern astronomy who sought each other out and advanced some central ideas in what was then an act of heresy. Copernicus was the forerunner in a time when "there was no place named America,' no light bulbs, no vaccines, no nationalism, no cheap steel, no secular state, no accurate clocksand almost no books." Working with such tools as he had, he advanced a thesis that boldly stated that Earth is not the center of the universe and that "all the spheres revolve around the Sun," a heliocentric notion that put him at odds with the Catholic Church in a time of schism. Figuring in the story in roughly equal measure are three other scientists who pushed the "Copernican heresy" further: Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and Galileo Galilei. The story of their discoveries, aided by primitive telescopes, mathematical intuitions, and long letters back and forth, is well known; what Fauber does well is humanize these four residents of the pantheon of science. An overweening letter from Brahe to Kepler, for instance, opened the door to a personal visit, although Kepler scrawled in the margin, "Everyone loves themself!" Brahe was a strange man, though, as Fauber shows, not without reason: He had been kidnapped as a baby and raised "in splendid isolation by a boorish uncle and his coy wife"; Galileo's mother "stole from him, spied on him, and fought with Marina, mother of his children." The writing is sometimes a touch too casualGalileo, writes the author, was born "too early to see the lax republican model of Venetian government spread over Europe like jam on toast"but the story is seldom less than fascinating.A readable, enjoyable contribution to the history of science. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
A vivid narrative that connects the lives of four great astronomers as they discovered, refined, and popularized the first major scientific discovery of the modern era: that the Earth moves around the Sun.

Today we take for granted that a telescope allows us to see galaxies millions of light years away. But before its invention, people used nothing more than their naked eye to fathom what took place in the visible sky. So how did four men in the 1500's--of different nationality, age, religion, and class--collaborate to discover that the Earth revolved around the Sun? With this radical discovery that went against the Church, they created our contemporary world--and with it, the uneasy conditions of modern life.

Heaven on Earth is an intimate examination of this scientific family--that of Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei. Fauber juxtaposes their scientific work with insight into their personal lives and political considerations, which shaped their pursuit of knowledge. Uniquely, he shows how their intergenerational collaboration was actually what made the scientific revolution possible.

Ranging from the birth of astronomy and the methods of early scientific research, Fauber reveals the human story that underlies this civilization altering discovery. And, contrary to the competitive nature of research today, collaboration was key to early scientific discovery. Before the rise of university research institutions, deep thinkers only had each other. They created a kind of family, related to each other via intellectual pursuit rather than blood.

These men called each other "brothers," "fathers," and "sons," and laid the foundations of modern science through familial co-work. And though the sixteenth century was far from the an open society for women, There were female pioneers in this "family" as well, including Brahe's sister Sophie, Kepler's mother, and Galileo's daughter.

Filled with rich characters and sweeping historical scope, Heaven on Earth reveals how the strong connections between these pillars of intellectual history moved science forward--and how, without them, we might have waited a long time for a heliocentric model of the universe.
Table of Contents
Introducing the Starsp. xi
Nicolaus Copernicusp. 1
Nicolaus in the Old Worldp. 3
The Fall of the House of Watzenrodep. 13
In Oppositionp. 16
The First Copernicanp. 22
The First Accountp. 25
The First Dissentp. 26
The Second Accountp. 29
Postmortemp. 34
Tycho Brahep. 37
New Starsp. 39
A Burdensome Privilegep. 42
Hvenp. 49
Urania Through the Yearsp. 50
Treasures on the Broken Roadp. 59
The Parvenup. 64
Goodbye to All Thatp. 67
The Outside Worldp. 68
A Letter Receivedp. 72
Johannes Keplerp. 75
Fathers, Sons, Ghostsp. 77
The Theological Turnp. 82
Judgmentp. 88
A Letter Sentp. 90
The Need for Harmonyp. 92
The Eyes of the Bearp. 95
Two Familiesp. 96
Lunacyp. 103
Reversals of Fortunep. 106
The War on Astronomyp. 109
Ascensionp. 114
Galileo Galileip. 119
Descentp. 121
Upon Leaving the Top of the Arcp. 123
Pupilsp. 126
Horky's Odysseyp. 131
Their Rekindled Friendshipp. 138
The Naming of Thingsp. 139
The New Manp. 142
Their Dying Friendshipp. 147
The Renaming of Thingsp. 150
First Signs of Nightp. 154
The Animalsp. 158
Wine and Womenp. 162
Two Winters and a Springp. 172
The Other Side of the Doorp. 179
A Bad Memoryp. 186
A Dovep. 187
A Tongue of Firep. 189
Death and the Gardenp. 192
The Changing Tidesp. 195
Works of His Golden Yearsp. 198
A Family Manp. 212
The Dialoguep. 214
The Teacherp. 219
Lacunaep. 226
Life Inside a Boxp. 227
The Four Last Things in Cruel Disorderp. 231
Appendix: Seven Vignettes From the New Astronomyp. 239
Reader's Bibliographyp. 257
Notesp. 265
Indexp. 327
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