Exhuming Tycho Brahe, Again

November 19th, 2010 § 0 comments

Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe

He was buried over four hundred years ago, exhumed about a hundred years ago, and now they’ve dug him up again. Tycho Brahe was a Danish nobleman, astronomer, astrologer and alchemist who died mysteriously in 1601.

Born in 1546, Brahe is considered the founder of modern observational astronomy. And he came up with his own model of the universe, the Tychonic system. He thought that all the planets but the earth revolved around the sun, and that the sun and moon revolved around the earth. Of course he was wrong.

But he was correct about a lot of other things. No one before Tycho had ever tried to study the stars and planets as comprehensively as he did. Prior to him, it was commonly believed that beyond the moon, the universe was steady and unchangeable. His meticulous observations challenged that view and there was no going back.

Details surrounding his sudden death in Prague have remained elusive. Bladder infection, kidney failure, maybe murder. Perhaps poisoning from his prosthetic nose. We don’t know. But Danish scientists from Aarhus University are determined to find out.

They have to return the bodies of Tycho and his wife to Prague today, but the researchers have been feverishly sampling tissue and bone, and promise to share their discoveries in a book due out next year.



What beautiful synchronicity that the man who coined the term nova and changed our view of the universe forever, resurfaced the week CERN scientists captured antimatter and another team of researchers found a Jupiter-like planet on the outskirts of the Milky Way.

Tycho was above ground for a moment in 1901 as well. Just as the Curies were playing with radium and polonium, and Marconi received his first radio signal from across the Atlantic. Nothing’s been the same since.

What’s that antimatter going to tell us? And the new planet? What huge discoveries are we about to make? Are our perceptions of everything, including our place in the world, about to change?

Exciting times. No wonder Tycho wanted to join us for a bit. Or maybe he’s some sort of herald.

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