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Heavenly Intrigue: Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and the Murder behind One of History's Greatest Scientific Discoveries.

HEAVENLY INTRIGUE: Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and the Murder behind One of History's Greatest Scientific Discoveries


The meeting of 17th-century astronomers Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe has long been considered opportune--until now. The Gilders charge that although Kepler was a great scientist who laid the foundation of modern astronomy, he was a murderer. His victim was his boss and the most famous astronomer of the day, Brahe. The authors present cutting-edge forensic evidence of mercury poison in Brahe's remains. To further build their case, they offer transcripts of letters and papers never before translated from Latin and interpretations from historians of astronomy. The story of the two men's lives and accomplishments hints at a motive for Kepler to commit murder. He was a man of modest means who struggled most of his career to advance his three laws of planetary motion. Brahe was born into nobility and, as the imperial mathematician to Rudolph II, had easy access to the forum Kepler craved. Also, Brahe's years of planetary observations were the data Kepler needed to prove his ideas. However, Brahe wasn't prone to sharing. The relationship between the two--as documented in their correspondence--was contentious until Brahe's untimely death. The story is carefully documented, and the science behind the men's work is clearly laid out. Doubleday, 2004, 304 p., b&w plates/illus., hardcover, $24.95.
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Title Annotation:Books: a selection of new and notable books of scientific interest
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 12, 2004
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