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THE GENESIS OF THE LAW OF GRAVITY

for the retarding hand of superstition and bigotry, the dawning day might have rapidly advanced.

As it was, Copernic, fearful perhaps of the fate of Roger Bacon, taught in private a few select pupils, and only on his death bed did he see his printed work (1543). Copernic's sudden death was all that saved him from the hands of his enemies. As it was, his book was soon proscribed and his theory placed under the ban of the church.

With the printing of Copernic's work the battle between the geocentric and helio-centric hypotheses may be said to have been fairly joined. Copernic himself foresaw the coming conflict. He also saw

PSM V78 D331 The solar system as conceived by copernicus.png

The Solar System as conceived by Copernicus.

that the real conflict would be, not with astronomers, but with churchmen. In the dedication of his book he says:

If there be some babblers who, ignorant of all mathematics, take upon them to judge of these things, and dare to blame and cavil at my work, because of some passage of Scripture which they have wrested to their own purpose, I regard them not, and will not scruple to hold their judgment in contempt.

Sir Oliver Lodge, in summing up the life-work of this pioneer of science, says:

We are to remember, then, as the life-work of Copernicus, that he placed the sun in its true place as the center of the solar system, instead of the earth.