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August 24, 1964

Nicholas Copernicus: Physician and Astronomer

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

JAMA. 1964;189(8):645. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070080051020

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To the Editor:—  My first impression on reading "Nicholas Copernicus: Eminent Representative of 16th Century Polish Medicine" in The Journal of May 18, 1964 (188:668) was that there were two separate individuals who had the same appellation attached to them—Copernicus the astronomer and Copernicus the erudite physician. With a little investigation I learned they were one and the same. Therefore, I must conclude that the communication was slanted towards his minor achievements. There is no mention of his greatest contribution to mankind, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, which was published after his demise. With this masterpiece he revolutionized celestial thinking of planet motions by overthrowing the Ptolemaic system, which had reigned for 14 centuries. Until his day, all scholars, except some of the Greeks, believed the earth to be stationary and the center of the universe. He is credited with changing, by independent thinking, the prevailing opinion on this matter.

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