Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 13, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
Copernicus and his amazing universe Mouli 13, 1973 _ THE IETHMIDGE HERAID This year the filth centennial of Copernicus's birth will bo celebrated throughout the world. The name of the astron- omer who, along svith few other men of genius initiated tho scientific revolution is oE course universally known. What, however, is not so well known is the origin of his revo- lutionary concept of Ihe uni- verse, ttie intellectual passion that led to this discovery and the cultural background which prepared and fertilized Coper- nicus's inquiring mind. Copernicus did not appear suddenly in a cultural desert, but grew up in the rich milieu of Poland and Italy at the height of the Renaissance era. His native land endowed him with innate talents and nurtur- ed his scientific inclinations while Italy helped lo bring to fruition his quest for philosoph- ic and scientific truth. Mikolaj Kopernifc, better known by his Latinized .name, Kicolaus Copernicus, a son of a wealthy burgher, was born on February 19, 1473 in Torun, a rich mercantile city in north- western Poland. He received his early education in his na- tive city before being sent to the famous Jagcllonian Univer- sity at Cracow for further uni- versity studies. At that time the University of Cracow, one of the oldest in Central Europe, was a flourishing centre of higher learning, especially noted for mathematics and as- tronomy. The teachings of the Cracovian professors aroused Copernicus's interest in Plato- nic philosophy and astronomy. The dominant view of the uni- verse was still one advanced by Aristotle and set forth in more detail, by Claudius Ptolemaeus, commonly known as Ptolemy, an astronomer from Alexand- ria who wrote his treatise on astronomy in the second cen- tury A.D. According to Ptolemy tho earth is at the centre of the universe and all the other bodies revolve round it from west to east at different dis- tances. The sun and the moon move steadily and continuous- ly. To account for the periodic retrograde and westward move- ments of the planets they were supposed to revolve in small circles, the centres of which moved steadily eastwards like the sun. Copernicus was familiar with the writings of the philosophers critical of the Ptolemaic sys- tem and by the time of his graduation from the Jagellonian University he was convinced that the Ptolemaic system was false. He determined to search lor the true structure of tho uni- verse centered around the sun and dedicated his life to 117 lo prove the validity of his hypo- thesis on the basis of mathe- matical calculations. W i t h financial assistance from his uncle, the bishop of Vvarmia and a senator of tho Polish kingdom, Copernicus went to Italy in order lo study law at the famous University of Bologna. Matriculating as a student of Canon he still pursued his astronomical ex- plorations under the direction of a brilliant astronomer Nov- ara. Working with Novara, Cop- ernicus carried out fruitful re- search which corroborated his conviction that Ptolemy's geo- centric system could not be valid. A true humanist, Copernicus pursued drawing and painting and left among other paintings, Ms self portrait, reproduced later on the famous clock tower of the Strasbourg Cathedral. Completing his medical studies, Copernicus received his licence In practice medicine and proved later to. be an able doctor sought out by many notables. The doctor's degree of "Both Laws" (canon and civil) was conferred on him by the Uni- versity of Ferrara. His studies completed, Copernicus return- ed to Poland taking wiih him a definite concept of the universe ruled by the sun. However, many long and arduous years of astronomical observations and mathematical calculations to confirm has helio-cenlric theory lay still ahead. Copernicus returned home in 1503, assuming his duties as Canon of the chapter of War- mi a, as well as assisting his aging uncle as his private sec- retary, legal advisor and per- sonal physician. After the death of his uncle, Copernicus took up residence at Frombork, a small coastal town, and con- centrated his efforts on his can- onical duties. Administration of the estates with which he was interested required much tra- vel. He continued to observe the heavens and practice medi- cine. During his lifetime, he was more prominent as a suc- cessful physician than as an astronomer. The province of Warmia, a borderland surrounded by the territory of' the Order of the Teutonic knights who were har- assing Polish provinces was at- tached by the Knights in 1520. They attempted to conquer its By Dr. I. J. Adcl-Ctlowickowskl capital Olszlyn, where Coperni- cus was temporarily stationed. Copernicus, priest and astrono- mer became governor of O's- ztyn when be remained despite the fact his associates left for safer areas. He fortified OlE- zlvn Castle as well as From- bork Cathedral and bravely held out against the assaults on the besieged cily. The Teutonic knights had to withdraw after plundering and looting thB sur- rounding countryside. As an administrator of the province of Warmia he had to o'eal with such economic mat- ters as a disastrous inflation resulting from the war. T h e Prussian towns had the right to mint money, and when in financial straits they mint- ed coins with consistently less silver, debasing the money and introducing chaos into the mar- ket, they undermined the coun- Uies' economy. Copernicus con- sidering the problem of debased currency noted that when bad and good money are in circula- tion) the bad supersedes the good. This bad money law was formulated by Copernicus sev- eral years before it was de- vised by Gresham and became known as Gresham's law. He wrote among other works a treatise "On Money" in which lie advanced the postulate of uniform currency for the en- tire Polish kingdom. When peace came lo Poland Copernicus returned to his can- onical duties in Frombork spending the remainder of his life in this small, remote Baltic coast town. In the solitude of Frombork he could devote more time to astronomy, which had held his interst for so many years. Using crude hand-made tools and primitive instruments, ho carried out a multitude of astronomical checks and math- ematical computations. The tower of Frombork which I visited last summer includes a museum where one can see some of the primitive instru- ments which Copernicus used: a few tools, a set of astronomi- cal tables and a piece of a rusted tube, which he used as a as well as sev- eral of the Greek books from his library. Copernicus's m o n u mental work "De revoiutionibus erbi- um coelestium libri VI" on the heliocentric structure of the universe, was written between Ial5 and 1532. He returned from Italy with a general concept, but it took him 30 years to ela- borate it and tremendous intel- lectual courage to publicize it. Copernicus's chief aim was lo prove thai Ihe movements of the Sim, moon and planets formed a genuine system, whose elements were uniform circular motions related togeth- er in a consistent manner. Cop- crnicus's insistence that the constructions of planetary ge- oir.elry ought not to violate the accepted principles of regular- ity paved the way for a re- union of astronomy with phys- ics. The gist of the Copernican theory may be summed up in three statements: 1. The centre of the earth is not the centre <-f the universe, but only of gravity. 2. An apparent motion of the firmament is the result of the earth's motion. The earth goes through a complete rotation on its axis each day, white the fimrament remains unaltered. 3. What appear to us as an- nual motions of the sun result, nut from its moving itself, but from the motion of the carih and its sphere, with which we travel around the sun just like any other planet. The final assertion expresses his crucial insight: namely that many of the irregularities hitherto attributed to Ihe plan- ets were optical illusions. Book Reviews Copernicus's great work might not have appeared in print had it not been for the intervention of Rheticus, a youtliful idealistic humanist, a mathematician and professor from Wittenberg. Ecouroged by Pheticus' enthusiasm Coperni- cus set about revising and pre- paring his work for publication. "De revoiutionibus" appeared in March 1543 when Copernicus Isy partially paralysed, strick- en with illness. The Copernican revolution started a chain re- action. His successor Galileo Galilei carried on where Cop- nicus left off and put his theory on a firm footing. Other scien- tists such as Kepler developed further and modified the helio- centric theory, and Newton for- mulated the physical laws on which it is based. To Coperni- cus, however, must go the cred- it of this tremendous break- through on which the entire structure of modern astronomy is based. His conception dealt with more than the planets and celestial mechanics. It fertil- ised the minds not o'nly of as- tronomers and physicists, but also of philosophers and hum- anists, marking the birth of modern science. Brings on the shivers "Antarctica" Edited by diaries Neirfer- (Random House of Canada Ltd., 4G4 jmgcs, Charles Neider takes excerpts from the journals of 15 of the Antarctica's greatest explorers and compiles them into this short history of some of the world's hardiest men. The men of the Antarctic braved not only the cold (126.9 degrees below is the coldest on record) but iso- lation, illness, dampness and, perhaps worst of all, dreariness. YYhile there are some excellent segments in this book there are also some pretty taxing ones as well it's all you can do to keep up interest in these sec- tions. But, on the whole, it is a concise and honest history of an area few of us will ever visit. The reading is rather dry (or is it until learning of James Waddell, the fifth man in the book. The real heart of the book, however, is the back- to-back sections dealing with Roald Amundson and Robert Arrange your 1973 crop financing with us right now. Because we plan to save you money. Pre-arranging your creditneeds with the Commerce has one very Jarge advantage. It can save you money. How? It's really quite simple, During the year, there may be special discount offers on fuel., fertilizer, sprays, and other operat- ing needs. If you have the cash on you can take advantage of those savings when they arise. AlsOj you will avoid any high carry- ing charges. And that makes a lot of sense. But this is just one of many ways the Commerce can help you plan your farming operation. In fact, your Commerce manager can custom tailor an entire credit package specifically for your farm. And that includes range financing of things like machinery, grain storage., and addi- tional land, too. And if you like, the Commerce can even arrange low-cost farm credit life insurance. The man to talk to is your local Commerce manager. The time is now. Because pre-arranging your credit needs can save you money, And that makes a lot of sense. CANADIAN IMPERIAL BANK OF COMMERCE Falcon Scott. Amundson's diary is positive, certain of success, full of a gung-ho-type of spirit that eventually enabled Mm to become the first man to reach the south pole. Scott's narrative seems shadowed with a prem- inition of failure and death. It gives one a weird and eerie feeling to read Scott's lest entries, right up lo his death which he seemed lo sense for some time. The overland treks make the best reading while the water voyages suffer from a same- ness that makes them a bit draggy. A short excerpt by photographer Herbert G. Pon- ting gives the only glimpse at the beauty of this vast, cold continent. It is a pity that none of his pictures were included in the book. All in all, the book comes out ahead. But if you read it have a good fire going and a supply of hot chocolate because the temperature seldom goes above zero from page one liu'ough to page 461. GARRY ALLISON Books in brief "From the Nets of a Sal- jiion by Eric Forrer (Doiiblertay, 158 pages, There are many people who want to escape from city life, but I doubt if they would be able to endure Ihe methods chosen by Eric Forrer as re- lated in his gripping adventures Vidlh Ihe Eskimo salmon fisher- men of the Yukon. The dangers, frustrations, and simple pleas- ures of trying to survive in the north are described with skill and sincerity. Of special inter- est are the Eskimo legends that form an integral part of the slory. This Is an excellent book which could be improved, and also command a wider reading audience, if the few examples of coarse language were de- leted. T.M. "The Matador of the Five by Arnold Bennett, (Clarke, Invirt and Company Limited, 325 pages, There must be sometlu'ng spe- cial about a book that merits reprinting 60 years after i I s first publication. The back- ground of Ihis collection of short stories is industrial England at the beginning of this century. The themes of the stories, love, marriage, death, and humor, are relevant to any age. This is a book wliich (lie reader can dip into and choose a short story to suit his mood, T.M. "Country Commune Cook- ing" hy Lucy Horton, (Long- man Canada Limited, 232 pages, This book presents a wide array of recipes which are time- lested, although under different names. It was prepared by sel- ecting recipes from various communes throughout the United States and therefore has some "colorful" names for Ihe recipes. Since commune living is re- flected in Ihe book, many of the recipes call for foods which can be grown in a garden. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the dialogue about each commune and the person who submitted it. If one lot his mind go, reading this bcok could make communal liv- ing paradise on carlh. In short, it is intcresling reading w i t li some usefulness thrown in by way of recipes. n.S. Pity the man By Eva Brcwslcr COUTTS Are Iherc really women who think of checking their car mileage at the beginning and end of a financial year for the sake of future lax relums? If there are, are they capable of dividing "per- sonal and business miles" by "non-allow- able Are Ihere really people who remember to ask for receipts every time they get gas, oil, a car wash, eat a meal or leave tips in a resturant? Do you know what you spent on stationary, postage, tele- phone calls, or even parking meters? The obligatory statement of income and ex- penses alone tied my chain of thoughts into such knots, that the only way out seemed to be to consult an expert. To talk lo income tax advisers is an ed- ucation in itself and well worth the small fee charged for preparing your lax form. When 1 entered their office, I had two pre- conceived ideas: that this expense sheet required of me was designed to discrim- inate against and discourage women from competing in a man's world and that, par- adoxically, tc an expert my problems must appear so straightforward, I would be out again in 10 minutes. Two-and-a-half hours and a parking vio- lation ticket later, I emerged, my head spinning, a sadder but wiser person. Some- how, my adviser had managed to disentan- gle my chaotic affairs but he also. con- vinced me I had made a loss instead of (as I had flattered myself to believe) eas- ing our financial burdens a little. However, if I felt sorry for my misguided efforts, I learned more pity for the man at the next desk. That man had spent five years of his young life fighting for his country, seven years in university, working nights and holi- days to pay his fees and then some more years in an underpaid job to add work ex- perience to his knowledge. Two decades later, a middle aged man now, he had at last arrived at the enviable income brack- et of That, he explained, looks really good on paper but by the time the government had finished with him and de- ducted about 50 per cent of his earnings for income tax, he was a lot worse off lhan he had been in his young years at half his present net salary. "What is he said, "any time I manage to save a lit- tle from what is left of my already heavily faxed income, I am taxed again on any interest such saving may have accrued." "Is it any he lamented, "kids now scorn a university education and pre- fer the benefits of unemployment Insur- ance to the minimum wages they can earn? My own youngsters know I could not af- ford to increase their allowance lo com- pete with the generous awards other young people get from welfare albeit I belong to a relatively high income group. Because I have paid all my life towards such social schemes, my kids now feel entitled to a return of the money they realize I would gladly have spent on them and their edu- cation had the state left me enough to do so." He cheered up temporarily when his ad- visor informed Mm there was a legitimate, government sanctioned way of saving a considerable slice of tax money by invest- ing in his case in a retirement savings plan which would guarantee him a tax return of But he wilted visibly when he realized he could not afford this initial investment after paying the annual morlagc on his house car loan payments, college fees and living allowance for his children. "Sure." be said, "I could get a loan for such a plan but that too would have to be paid off with compound inter- est and in any case when I am old enough to reap the benefit of retirement invest- ment, I would liave to pay tax on it. it's just a question of putting off the evil mo- ment. If they don't get you at one end of the scale, they'll get you at the 'other. There just is no incentive for anybody lo work hard any more. The more you de- serve a higher income, Che less you are left with. There is no reward for saving to combat inflation because-you are penal- ized by yet more taxation. There is no in- centive for my wife to try and help for whatever she could earn would merely mean a loss of what little fax allowance I get for my family. And my childreo are disillusioned and don't see why they should struggle on minimum wages or pocket money when so many of their peers get a week for doing I wished Mr. Turner had listened to ths comment on all his statistics. In his opin- ion he may have tried to improve gen- eral conditions with his budget but he has failed lo get at the root of discontent, un- employment and inflation by not providing more incentive to work and save. Report to readers Doug Walker Cartoons have a special role One Saturday morning several weeks ago I answered my telephone at the office and got the surprise of my brief news- paper career: a lady was so offended by the cartoons on the editorial page that she- had decided to cancel her subscription. Her objection was not that the cartoonists poked fun at politicians but that they so grossly distorted the appearances of na- tional and international leaders. The last straw, as far as the lady was concerned, was a cartoon drawn by Ulus- chak of The Edmonton Journal. It depict- ed Prime Minister Trudeau at home where his infant son Juslin had just spelled the word "unemployment" with alphabet blocks. "Knock it off, said the prime minister. The lady wasn't interest- ed in the aptness of the political comment the cartoon made, which was the sole pur- pose of the drawing. She said the prime minister was a much handsomer man than he was made to appear in the cartoon and to depict the Trudeaus' lovely baby as a blob was just indefensible. I am not a student of cartooning but I undertook to offer a defence of those who use Ihis means of expressing views. I said that cartoonists did not draw likenesses, they resorted (o caricature in which some distinguishing facial feature is emphasized. Although this certainly distorts the per- sons's appearance there is usually no doubt left about who is being depicted. To be able to do this requires great skill but it is still secondary to the idea which is being conveyed. I told the lady that most poli- ticians were probably less concerned about their appearance than about the thrust of Ihe idea. Recently In The Ciiristian Science Mon- itor I read an article about Washington Post cartoonist Herb Block which suggests that the last point may require some modi- ification. Many political analyst, the ar- ticle said, credit Block's unshaven, thug- like portrayal of Richard Nixon as the rea- son for the Nixon defeat in the I960 presi- dential election in the U.S. The cartoonist's portrayal may be more important than I have thought. But cartoonists are not likely to change, as I told my lady caller. I am not pre- pared to concede that they do a poorer job of it than in the past, as the lady con- tended. In fact I think they are doing a better job. When I was in New York I saw a display of cartooning in U.S. elec- tions in one ol the museums. Early cartoon- ing was very stilted and people were so un- recognizable that they had to be labelled. They were not very subtle, either, and sometimes they were downright savage. Cartoons are almost essential lo an edi- torial page. For one thing, without them the page would look so solid and forbid- ding that most readers would simply flip past. Most people will stop to look at x cartoon and then maybe while the page is open they will let their eye stray to some- thing else and start to read. Teachers using the newspaper in the classrooms actually get students interested in commentary by starling with cartoons. Not only do cartoons help to lighten appearance of the editorial page and pro- vide an opportunity for a little variety in makeup, but they can be a means of mak- ing a point very tellingly. When a U.S. pres- idential adviser suggested to Mr. Nixon that the blacks might profit from "benign Bill Mauldin showed an Indian looking out from a fenced reservation and saying to a black man, "Brother, you don't know what benign neglect is." Who could forget; the point of that cartoon? Could it be made as effectively in a wordy editorial? We get a good selection of cartoons at The Herald. They often arrive loo late or they are the wrong size to suit the makeup that best suits the other material but those problems will probably be alleviated some- what whea we convert lo offset. The cartoonisls whose works were used most in 1972 are: Uluschak of the Edmon- ton Journal Jones of the Montreal Star Chambers of the Halifax Chron- icle Crawford of Newspaper Enter- prise Association and our own D'Arcy Rickard In addition, frequent use was made of Berry's World and Crazy Cap- ers. This year we have added Norris of The Vancouver Sun and Roschkov of the Windsor Star. I am especially partial to the work of D'Arcy because he draws about the lo- cal scene and his sense of humor appeals to me. Ife and I were a little naive dur- ing the federal election when we allowed Andy Russell lo appear bigger and more oflen than the other candidates. Even the staff thought we were blatently campaign- ing for in turn shows how naive they are since almost everybody knows that a newspaper endorsement is the kiss of death! It was D'Arcy's pen- chant for drawing animals and my fail- ure to look beyond the gag line that got us into trouble. We will be more careful next time.