Jack OughtonDe Revolutionibus - A Book Nobody Read?
e Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On The Revolutions Of The Heavenly Spheres)
is the ultimate work of the multi-talented reclusive genius, NicolausCopernicus. It is known as the writing that began the CopernicanRevolution, one of the most significant astronomical paradigm shifts in humanhistory, dislodging the millennia old geocentric hypothesis. It has also been arguedthat this book was the catalyst for the
of the 16
century. Thescientific revolution saw massive progress made in everything from biology tochemistry, as the limiting shackles of millennia of religious dogma and persecutionbegan to loosen their grip on thought in Europe.
De Revolutionibus’ title page, Second Edition.
Arthur Koestler was a Hungarian born polymath, who immigrated to the UK in the1940s. A driven man, he renounced his Jewish religious heritage, became anoutspoken critic of Communism, was Knighted in the 1970s, and as a lifelongadvocate of voluntary euthanasia; took his own life with his wife by a drug overdoseon March 3, 1983. He wrote many books and novels on subjects varying from socialphilosophy, politics and science. In 1959 he wrote
The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe,
a book concerned with the scientific historyof astronomy, focusing mainly on European contributions during the golden age of the renaissance. In Part 3,
The Timid Canon
, he writes “
The Book of the Revolutionsof the Heavenly Spheres was and is an all-time worst-seller.
" (Koestler, 1959)
His argument is definitely convincing, anyone who has read (or tried to read) thebook would agree with Koestler’s statement of its “extreme un-readability”; it is aformidable piece of literature. When given a copy myself I felt a distinct feeling thatI was being assailed by a wall of cold scholarly text and complex geometricaldiagrams
. The book's title page gives fair warning: "
Let no one untrained ingeometry enter here
”, clearly the old Pole either didn’t understand the principles