Brookhaven Women in Science (BWIS) Activity


Presented by Dava Sobel,

Thursday, December 15, 2011, 7:00 pm — Berkner Hall Auditorium

By 1514, reclusive cleric Nicolaus Copernicus had written and hand-copied an outline of his heliocentric theory in which he defied common sense and placed 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, young German mathematician Georg Joachim Rheticus traveled to Poland to seek out Copernicus and, in 1543, arranged to have Copernicus' manuscript published as De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres). Sobel's latest work provides an unforgettable portrait of scientific achievement, and of the ever-present tensions between science and faith. In her talk, Dava Sobel will describe the conflicting personalities and extraordinary discoveries that shaped the Copernican Revolution. She will also discuss her play, And the Sun Stood Still, in which she imagines Rheticus's struggle to convince Copernicus to let his manuscript see the light of day. Dava Sobel is an internationally bestselling, award-winning author: Longitude (1997 British Book of the Year) was made into a PBS documentary and mini-series; Galileo's Daughter (Pulitzer finalist).

Hosted by: Vivian Stojanoff

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