1Crises and paradigm shift1

In 1543 a little-known amateur astronomer published his magnum opus. On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres secured Nicolaus Copernicus’s place in the history of science and constituted the beginning of what Thomas Kuhn (1962) described as a paradigm shift in scientific thought. Before Copernicus the sun and the planets were believed to revolve around the earth. But astronomers had increasingly been bothered by growing observational anomalies with the Aristotelian, geocentric view. Copernicus hypothesised that contrary to the dominant view, the earth revolved around the sun, as did the planets – a new, radical, heliocentric model. He was right. But Copernicus’s theory did not result in a sudden or instantaneous shift ...

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