Nicolaus Copernicus is spinning in his grave.
This is not a matter of “may be spinning.” I’m convinced he’s actually doing it. Surely, wherever he is, the Renaissance mathematician and astronomer has heard the latest from National Public Radio, which is that 26 percent of Americans believe the sun revolves around Earth.
The National Science Foundation conducted a survey and discovered what — I believe at least — to be a shocking lack of knowledge about one of the basic foundations of our world.
Copernicus formulated the theory about Earth’s role in the solar system, dispelling what had been common “knowledge” for many previous centuries. The ancient Greeks — who had their own cadre of scientists and mathematicians — had thought the sun circled Earth. Along came the Romans, who bought into the Greeks’ notion of our solar system.
The Dark Ages settled in after the fall of the Roman Empire. Then came the Renaissance and the emergence of the likes of Copernicus, who hailed from what we know now as Poland.
It is utterly amazing that six centuries later, after Copernicus’s theory has been so well-established and taught in virtually every elementary, middle, junior high and high school in the nation, that slight more than a fourth of Americans apparently don’t get that the sun is the center of our solar system.
Isn’t it interesting that we call it the “solar system,” which carries by its very name the connotation that the sun is at the center?
As a friend of mine noted while sharing this tidbit on Facebook, “We have some work to do.”