Nicolaus Copernicus was born on 19 February 1473 in the city of Thorn. He obtained a doctorate in canon law and was also a mathematician, astronomer, physician, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, and economist. In 1517 he derived a quantity theory of money – a key concept in economics – and in 1519 he formulated an economics principle that later came to be called Gresham's law.
Copernicus is postulated to have spoken Latin and German with equal fluency. He also spoke Polish, Greek and Italian. The vast majority of Copernicus's surviving works are in Latin.
Upon his father's death, young Nicolaus' maternal uncle, Lucas Watzenrode , took the boy under his wing and saw to his education and career. Watzenrode first sent young Copernicus to St. John's School, at Toruń, where he himself had been a master. Later the boy attended the Cathedral School at Włocławek, which prepared pupils for entrance to the University of Kraków.
Copernicus entered the University of Krakow in 1491, where he studied mathematics, medicine and theology with equal diligence, but he was particularly attracted to astronomy.
After graduating from the University (1494) Copernicus did not receive any academic title, and the family Council decided that he will have a spiritual career. A strong argument in favor of such a choice was that the patron uncle was just elevated to the rank of Bishop.
To continue education Copernicus went to Italy (1497) and entered the University of Bologna. In addition to theology, law and ancient languages, he had the opportunity to engage in astronomy under the guidance of the famous astronomer Domenico Novara. Among other professors in Bologna were the mathematician Scipione del ferro, of discoveries which began with the revival of European mathematics. Meanwhile, thanks to the efforts of his uncle, in Poland, Copernicus was elected in absentia a Canon in the diocese of Warmia.
In 1500 Copernicus left the University, again without receiving any diploma or title, and went to Rome. In the memories Ritika saying that Copernicus taught at the University of Rome a number of disciplines, including astronomy, however, other biographers put this fact into question. Then, after a short stay at home, he went to the University of Padua and continued the study of medicine.
In 1503 Copernicus finally completed his education, passed exams in Ferrara, received a diploma and a degree of doctor of Canon law. He was in no hurry to return, and with the permission of his uncle, the Bishop, the next three years practiced medicine in Padua.
In 1506 Copernicus received the news, perhaps far-fetched, about the illness of his uncle. He left Italy and returned to his homeland. The next 6 years he spent in his Episcopal castle of Heilsberg, doing astronomical observations and teaching in Krakow. At the same time was a doctor, a Secretary and confidant of uncle Lukas.
In 1512 the Bishop-uncle died. Copernicus moved to Frombork, a small town on the shore of the Bay of wisła, where he began his spiritual duties. Scientific research he, however, not deserted. The northwestern tower of the fortress became an Observatory.
Already in 1500 the idea of the new astronomical system was formed quite clearly. He began to write a book describing a new model of the world, discussing his ideas with friends, among whom were many of his associates (for example, Tiedeman Giese, Bishop of Kulm). During these years Copernicus distributed a handwritten abstract of his theory to his friends, and his disciple Retic published a clear statement of the heliocentric system in 1539. Apparently, the rumors about the new theories were widely distributed already in the 1520-ies. Work on the main work — "on the rotation of celestial spheres" - lasted for almost 40 years, Copernicus constantly made it clearer, prepared new astronomical calculation tables.
When needed, Copernicus devoted his efforts and practical work: on his project in Poland was introduced a new coin-operated system, and in the city of Frombork he built a hydraulic machine that supplied water to all homes. As a doctor, he was engaged in the fight against the plague of 1519. During the Polish-Teutonic war (1519-1521) he organized a successful defense of the bishopric from the Teutons. At the end of the conflict Copernicus took part in peace talks (1525), which ended with the creation of the first Protestant state — the Duchy of Prussia, vassal of the Polish crown.
In 1531, 58-year-old Copernicus retired and focused on completing his book. At the same time he was practicing medicine (free of charge). In 1542 the condition of the scientist has considerably worsened, the paralysis of the right half of a body has come.
Copernicus died on 24 may 1543 at the age of 70 from a stroke. Some biographers argue that the author shortly before his death he managed to see his work printed. But others prove that it was impossible, as Copernicus had been in a severe coma for the last months of his life.
The location of Copernicus ' grave remained unknown for a very long time, but during excavations in the Cathedral of Frombork in 2005 skull and leg bones were found. Comparative DNA analysis of these remains and two Copernicus hairs found in one of his books confirmed that Copernicus remains were found. On may 20, 2010, the ceremony of reburial of the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus began. The remains of the great scientist was buried in the Cathedral of Frombork. Primate of Poland, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk of Gniezno held the solemn ceremony. The burial of the remains was also timed to coincide with the 750th anniversary of the city
It was Nicholas who made one of the greatest revolutions in the history of astronomy. in 1543, there appeared a work "On the rotations of the celestial spheres". This paper presents a mathematical theory that explains the complex visible motions of the moon, Sun, five planets, and star spheres. The Appendix to the work contains a directory of stars. The work itself is equipped with mathematical tables.
Copernicus placed the Sun in the center of the world. He pointed out that the planets were moving around him. Among them was the Earth, for the first time defined as a "moving star". The sphere of the stars, as did Copernicus, separated from the planetary system of the great distance. Conclusion thinker of great remoteness of this sector is explained by the heliocentric principle. The fact that only in this way Copernicus to harmonize his theory with the visible absence of displacements of the stars. We are talking about those displacements that should appear due to the movement of the observer along with the planet Earth.
The system proposed by Nicolai Copernicus was more accurate and simpler than the Ptolemaic system. It immediately gained wide practical application. On the basis of this system were compiled "Prussian tables", the length of the tropical year was calculated more accurately. In 1582, the long – awaited reform of the calendar was carried out-a new style, Gregorian.
The lower complexity of the new theory, as well as the greater accuracy of the calculation of the positions of planets on the basis of heliocentric tables obtained at first, are not the main advantages of the Copernicus system. Moreover, in the calculations, his theory was only slightly easier the Ptolemaic. As for the accuracy of calculations of the planets ' positions, it practically did not differ from it, if it was necessary to calculate the changes observed in a long period of time.
Revolutionary value proposed by the Copernican principle lies in the fact that Nicholas introduced a unified system of motion of all the planets, explained the many effects previously unclear to scientists. For example, with the help of an idea of the daily and annual movements of our planet, he explained the main features of such intricate movements of celestial bodies as loops, standing, and back movement. Copernicus system made it possible to understand why there is a daily movement of the sky. From now on, the loop-shaped motion of the planets was explained by the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun with a cycle of one year.
Б.Е.Райков, Очерки по истории гелиоцентрического мировоззрения в России. изд. АН СССР, 1937
Владимир Губарев, От Коперника до "Коперника": изд. Полит. Литература, Москва 1973
Е.А.Гребенник, "Николай Коперник": изд. Наука, Москва 1973