CopernicusPerspective > Culture > Copernicus
The Copernicus Complex
An overview of The Copernicus Complex, by Caleb Scharf.
It would seem that to think big you should start small, as in the case of budding Dutch scientist van Leeuwenhoek, who found himself within an inner space, a world of alien design invisible to the human eye.
Despite receiving only a basic education, in 1674, the incredibly secretive van Leeuwenhoek, devised and built a series of bespoke lenses that allowed him to look at the world magnified five hundred times.
The universe van Leeuwenhoek had entered was a microscopic cosmos, a world bursting with life in every nook and cranny be it droplets of water, saliva or plaque offering the first glimpses of bacteria. Discovery of bacteria living as they had done for the past 3-4 billion years without them ever entering the human consciousness was immense, however, it took another two hundred years before humans were to appreciate the link between bacteria and our own health.
It can be argued that this narrow viewpoint of disregarding consequence of this magnitude is not only restricted to that period of human evolution but supports the wider assumption of human superiority and significance above all other things, despite evidence to the contrary.
About one hundred years before the van Leeuwenhoek discovery, a polish scientist, Nicolaus Copernicus published a book "On the revolutions of the celestial spheres". In his book Copernicus proposed that the Earth orbited the Sun rather than the other way around demonstrated by his heliocentric model of the universe, this theory meant that the Earth and by extension humans were not the centre of the universe. Humans were not special.
Despite the theologian resistance to this idea and the many ideas that followed, the proceeding 500 years of scientific discovery continue to challenge our significance. It appears that we do not exist in the microscopic nor the cosmic, however, perhaps we live in a narrow band between both.
Our understanding, of where humans and the Earth relate to the universe and the microscopic has a profound impact on our never ending search for reasons behind our existence as humans. Are we special or are we insignificant? Is the universe expanding at an ever increasing rate? Are there even smaller worlds that exist than we know of? Do we live in a time and space of infinite possibilities or is this all that there is?
To even to attempt to answer any of these questions requires a thorough examination of the Earth's history, planetary systems, biological microcosms and cutting edge scientific thought and evidence. Something we will look at as we progress through the book.
A Short Copernicus Biography