Universe is created, according to Kepler
On this day in 4977 B.C., the universe is created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, considered a founder of modern science. Kepler is best known for his theories explaining the motion of planets.
Kepler was born on December 27, 1571, in Weil der Stadt, Germany. As a university student, he studied the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’ theories of planetary ordering. Copernicus (1473-1543) believed that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system, a theory that contradicted the prevailing view of the era that the sun revolved around the earth.
In 1600, Kepler went to Prague to work for Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, the imperial mathematician to Rudolf II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Kepler’s main project was to investigate the orbit of Mars. When Brahe died the following year, Kepler took over his job and inherited Brahe’s extensive collection of astronomy data, which had been painstakingly observed by the naked eye. Over the next decade, Kepler learned about the work of Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who had invented a telescope with which he discovered lunar mountains and craters, the largest four satellites of Jupiter and the phases of Venus, among other things. Kepler corresponded with Galileo and eventually obtained a telescope of his own and improved upon the design. In 1609, Kepler published the first two of his three laws of planetary motion, which held that planets move around the sun in ellipses, not circles (as had been widely believed up to that time), and that planets speed up as they approach the sun and slow down as they move away. In 1619, he produced his third law, which used mathematic principles to relate the time a planet takes to orbit the sun to the average distance of the planet from the sun.
Kepler’s research was slow to gain widespread traction during his lifetime, but it later served as a key influence on the English mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and his law of gravitational force. Additionally, Kepler did important work in the fields of optics, including demonstrating how the human eye works, and math. He died on November 15, 1630, in Regensberg, Germany. As for Kepler’s calculation about the universe’s birthday, scientists in the 20th century developed the Big Bang theory, which showed that his calculations were off by about 13.7 billion years.
(More Events on This Day in History)
- 1773 Parliament passes the Tea Act
- 2009 GM announces plans to phase out Pontiac
- 1865 Union soldiers die in steamship explosion
- 1978 Afghan president is overthrown and murdered
- 1997 Cunanan begins his killing spree
- 1865 Civil War vets are caught in steamboat explosion
- 1521 Magellan killed in the Philippines
- 1805 To the shores of Tripoli
- 1865 Tragedy on the Mississippi
- 1994 South Africa holds first multiracial elections
- 1993 D.A. announces negligence caused Brandon Lee’s death
- 1667 John Milton sells the copyright to Paradise Lost
- 1963 High school freshman Little Peggy March earns a #1 hit with “I Will Follow Him”
- 1813 Explorer Zebulon Pike dies
- 1822 President Grant is born
- 1956 Rocky Marciano retires as world heavyweight champion
- 1968 Humphrey announces his candidacy
- 1972 North Vietnamese attack outskirts of Quang Tri
World War I
- 1916 British attempt to bargain with Turks over Kut
World War II
- 1941 German forces enter Athens