Happy Birthday Copernicus

by Beth Knittle on February 20, 2013

Yesterday Google had a doodle for Copernicus on the occasion of his 540th birthday. There have been many pioneers in science that have challenged current thought and understanding. Copernicus challenged the Earth centered view of the universe and gave us the Sun centered view. He was not correct but based on the evidence he had he came up with a new idea.  He stuck to the evidence and conventional wisdom and gave us the modern science of astronomy. The same could be said for many scientific ideas.  With the advent of new information and new technologies what we thought we knew and understood changes. In science nothing is ever really settled, particularly large and complex systems.

Think about the quest for the elements and the smallest particle of matter.  Once upon a time the smallest particle was an atom, then we split the atom and found Neutron, Electrons and Protons.  Since then we have broken these down into quarks. The ‘facts’ and ‘truth’ for one generation are just steps to the ‘facts’ of the next.  I am thankful for all the scientists who continue to question, challenge, test and explore current theories and seek to find new frontiers of knowledge.  Critical, reflective thinking at its best.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Carpenter (Guest) February 24, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Hi,
My name is Laura Carpenter and I’m a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. Your blog was assigned for me to read. I’m an Elementary Education major. I’m minoring in English, but I have always taken a special interest in science. I remember studying about Copernicus and his discovery of the Sun centered universe. I agree that in the world of science nothing is ever really settled. There is constant research going on that is always bringing about new ideas. I am also thankful for the continuous work of scientists who question,test and explore current theories.

Laura Carpenter

Beth Knittle February 25, 2013 at 5:56 am

Hi Laura,

Questioning is a skill that should be encouraged in all disciplines. As an elementary educator you are aware that children are innately curious and ask lots of questions. Why? How come? What is that? A parent of a toddler can be come exhausted by all the questions. But some how as children enter adolescents their curiosity subsides. As A middle school teacher I frequently heard “just tell me what I need to know.” I could tell them complete fibs and they would dutifully write it down. Sadly the curious, questioning nature does not return. So I encourage you to foster that curious nature in your students and model it for the adults around you.

Roanna Council March 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Ms. Knittle,
I am also I student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I am majoring in Secondary Math Education. My favorite thing about Math, though, is being able to apply it to real life situations. And we all know that the application of math to life is just Science. Physics is my favorite! I love everything you said in your post. I hope that I am able to teach my students to want to learn and explore the world from math and scientific prospective and strive to learn more and more every day. Never stop challenging the norm as Copernicus showed us. Make a discovery!

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