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Dava Sobel Presents: "A More Perfect Heaven"

New York City native Dava Sobel will discuss her book on Nicolas Copernicus, "A More Perfect Heaven."

Here is a tantalizing excerpt from Sam Kean's review of Ms. Sobel's book in the New York Times:

"Few scientists die secure in the knowledge that their greatest discoveries will outlive them, but some of those who missed out make you wince. Gregor Mendel and Johann Friedrich Mie­scher discovered, respectively, genes and DNA in the 1860s, yet both died obscure and unappreciated. Alfred Wegener’s fundamental theory of plate tectonics drew scorn until the 1950s — two decades after he died. Last year, the biologist Ralph M. Steinman died just three days before winning a Nobel Prize.

Enlarge This Image Illustration by Roman Muradov


How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos

By Dava Sobel

Illustrated. 273 pp. Walker & Company. $25.

Nicolaus Copernicus escaped a similar fate — but only barely. He devised his theory of a sun-centered universe in about 1510, and then rebuffed all pleas to publish (beyond a frustratingly sketchy outline he distributed) for three decades after. Then, in 1539, an enigmatic Lutheran mathematician and aspiring astrologer named Rheticus showed up, unwanted, at Copernicus’s door in Varmia, in modern Poland, after crossing illegally into Catholic territory. (It was the Reformation.) For months Rheticus begged Copernicus to make his full heliocentric doctrine public — and somehow prevailed. Copernicus sent a manuscript to the printers in 1542.

No one knows how Rheticus succeeded, since virtually no evidence of their discussion survives. But rather than sigh over this lacuna, as most historians do, Dava Sobel came up with an odd but artful solution: She wrote a two-act play to dramatize the encounter, and sandwiched it between 150 pages of nonfiction narrative. “A More Perfect Heaven” is the amalgamated result."

Come hear Ms. Sobel discuss this and more...perhaps Asteriod 30935 Davasobel or the eight solar eclipses she's already seen as of this posting (on 11/8/12), as well her experience seeing next Wednesday's Total Solar Eclipse on 11/14/12 in Australia's Cairns and Barrier Reef.

Admission is Free, thanks to the host, The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York.

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