Nicholas Copernicus, the renowned astronomer who revolutionized our understanding of the universe by proposing that Earth revolves around the Sun, was also a talented mathematician, engineer, author, economic theorist, and medical doctor. Born in Toru?, Poland in 1473, Copernicus received his education from the University of Kraków and various Italian universities before returning home to work for his influential uncle, Lucas Watzenrode the Younger.
Copernicus made significant contributions to economics during his time as a physician, developing the quantity theory of money and introducing the concept now known as Gresham’s law. However, his most groundbreaking work was his model of the universe, which challenged the prevailing belief that Earth was the center of the universe. Instead, Copernicus argued that Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun. Despite his fear of backlash from the church and fellow scholars, Copernicus published his magnum opus, “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium,” shortly before his death in 1543.
For centuries, the location of Copernicus’s grave remained unknown until a group of Polish archaeologists took up the search in 2005. Guided by historian Jerzy Sikorski’s theory that Copernicus would have been buried near the altar he was responsible for during his tenure as Canon of Frombork Cathedral, they discovered thirteen skeletons near the Altar of the Holy Cross. Through forensic science techniques and DNA analysis, including comparing DNA from the teeth and bones of the discovered skeleton with hairs found in an astronomical reference book believed to have belonged to Copernicus, it was determined that the remains were highly likely to be those of Nicholas Copernicus.
This monumental discovery not only reveals the final resting place of one of history’s most influential figures but also showcases the power of modern scientific methods in corroborating historical data. Copernicus’s contributions to science continue to shape our understanding of the universe and his multidisciplinary approach as a Renaissance man serves as an inspiration to future generations.