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Blogger William Orem wrote on Dec. 22, 2008 @ 21:18 GMT
In keeping with the subject of Earth-shaking historical impacts -- the last resting place of Copernicus has now been positively identified.

From Science News:

"Polish archaeologist Jerzy Gassowski told a news conference that forensic facial reconstruction of the skull, missing the lower jaw, his team found in 2005 buried in a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Frombork, Poland, bears...

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Eric S. wrote on Jan. 10, 2009 @ 02:40 GMT
Have we the courage of Copernicus to shake the very Earth? Maybe, or maybe not, but thankfully I doubt we need that kind of courage anymore to publish cosmological ideas, no matter how “heretical”.

Time does not, in a deep sense, exist? Hmmm.

The universe is inside a black hole? Hmmm.

The mathematics we arbitrarily choose ends up determining our fundamental reality? Hmmm indeed.

These days it turns out to be quite safe and easy to propose cosmological thought experiments, theories, and arguments.

I think the established religious orders operate very differently now than they did in the time of Copernicus, and their relationship to science has been one of defense and disengagement for the last century, rather than outright attack. Fundamentalists of all stripes have developed a full set of tools for ignoring and discounting arguments and opinions they don't want to hear; they've stopped actually engaging with those arguments long ago.

For the non-fundamentalists, current cosmology is so wonderfully weird and science fiction-y already, I can't imagine an idea that is so "out there" that it draws institutional shock, outrage, or violence. No torch-wielding mobs of villagers have attacked string theorists after all.

Publication itself is also very different now. We live in an age when any nitwit with computer access can "publish" any manner of nonsense. Anyone who has spent time browsing the internet has learned to just filter out ridiculous things, not react with shock and horror and cries of "Heresy!" to things we don't agree with.

The sheer bulk of crazy stuff probably makes it that much "safer" to publish radical new ideas, but it also makes truly revolutionary and useful new ideas that much harder to spot. Maybe we don't need the courage of a Copernicus in this information-glutted age, but rather the insight and perception of a Galileo to actually spot the next paradigm-shifting idea, and the tenacity to run with it.

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