Nicolaus Copernicus was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer who lived during the Renaissance and Reformation eras and contributed to science with a new model of the universe that placed the Sun instead of the Earth at the center of the universe. Although a similar theory had been formulated centuries earlier by Aristarchus of Samos, Copernicus went much farther than anyone before him. A major milestone in the history of science, the publication of his book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres in 1543 was a radical act that demolished thousand-year old beliefs.
Born in Royal Prussia, Nicolaus Copernicus held a doctorate in canon law and was also a classics scholar, governor, diplomat, translator, and physician besides being an influential mathematician and astronomer. He made valuable contributions to many fields, including economics, where he formulated a principle that would later become Gresham’s law. Copernicus’s daring and novel writings made all former theories about the system of the universe explode and put humanity on a new scientific path, eventually making way for the Scientific Revolution.