The Contributions by Johannes Kepler They focused on the descriptions of planetary movements, being named a posteriori as the laws of Kepler. However, this was not the only contribution of one of the Most important scientists in history .
Johannes Kepler was born on 27 December 1571 in Weil der Stadt, Württemberg in Germany. The young Kepler was a sick child of poor parents, but his obvious intelligence earned him a scholarship at the University of Tübingen to study the career of Lutheran minister where he studied mainly theology, philosophy, mathematics and astronomy.
There he knew the ideas of Nicolaus Copernicus, who taught - though he had no observational evidence he could offer as proof - that the planets orbited the sun instead of the Earth. In 1954, Kepler began to teach mathematics in Graz, Austria. In 1596, he wrote the first public defense of the Copernican system.
In search of the most detailed studies on the paths of the planets, Kepler contacted the astronomer Tycho Brahe. Brahe built an observatory in Prague from where he tracked the movements of the planets, retaining the most accurate observations of the solar system - at that time.
In 1600, Brahe invited Kepler to work with him. However, Brahe was reluctant to share his detailed notes with Kepler. Instead, he assigned to solve the mystery of Mars, one of the most disconcerting problems of astronomy of the time.
Ironically, through these records Kepler was able to understand how the solar system worked. And when Brahe died in 1601, Kepler succeeded in acquiring Brahe's observations before his family could use them for their economic benefit.
Laws of Kepler and other 10 contributions to science and society
Kepler took almost eight years to understand the retrograde motion of the planet Mars. Using Brahe's detailed observations, Kepler realized that the planets traveled in"stretched"circles known as ellipses.
The sun does not lie exactly in the center of its orbit, but moves to one side, at one of the two points known as the focus. Some planets, such as Earth, have an orbit very much like a circle, but the orbit of Mars is one of the most elliptical. This fact that planets travel on elliptical trails is known as Kepler's First Law.
Kepler also realized that a planet moved more slowly when it was farther from the sun than when it was near. Understanding that the planets traveled in ellipses determined that an invisible line connecting the sun with a planet covered an equal amount of area for the same amount of time, this being Kepler's Second Law.
Kepler's Third Law was published a decade later, and he recognized that the relationship between the period of two planets - the time they take to orbit the sun - corresponds to their distance from the sun. While the first two laws of Kepler focus on the details of the movement of a single planet, the third law is a comparison between the orbit of two planets.
Other notable discoveries
Although Kepler is best known for his laws that define planetary movements, he also made other notable contributions to science:
- He determined that refraction drives vision into the eye, and that using two eyes allows depth perception.
- He created glasses for myopia and farsightedness.
- He explained the operation of the telescope.
- He described the properties of reflection.
- He affirmed that gravity depends on two bodies instead of one, claiming that the moon is the cause of the movement of the tides on Earth.
- He mentioned the rotation of the sun and created the word"satellite."
- He tried to use his knowledge to measure the distance to the stars.
- He made several contributions to mathematics, including the creation of faster calculation methods.
- He investigated the volume of many solid bodies.
- He calculated the year of Christ's birth.
In recognition of Johannes Kepler's contributions to understanding the motion of the planets, NASA named its planet-seeking telescope in honor of the German astronomer.
In 1612 the Lutherans were expelled from Prague, reason why Kepler moved to Linz after the recent death of his wife and their two children. Later remarried but had many personal and financial problems. In 1617, his mother Katharina was accused of being a witch, thanks in part to the extensive legal defense Kepler prepared for her, was released in October 1621.
In 1621, Kepler completed the last of seven volumes of his astronomy textbook by gathering and expanding his work on the Copernican system. In 1627, he completed the Rudolphine Tables which provided accurate calculations of the future positions of the planets and allowed the prediction of rare astronomical events.
Johannes Kepler died in Regensburg on 15 November 1630, at the age of 58. His tomb was demolished - two years after burial - by the Swedish army in the Thirty Years' War.
Kepler's contributions: mathematics, astronomy and astrology
In addition to teaching mathematics in Graz, Kepler became a district mathematician. In this position he worked out the calendars of his time that should include information useful to people's daily lives.
Information included advice to farmers on when to plant crops, advice to leaders on military campaigns, advice on romance issues, etc.
At the time of Kepler there was considerable confusion both in the general community and in universities as to the distinction between astronomy and astrology.
As part of this process, Kepler published a book in 1601 that"rejected the superstitious view that stars guide the lives of human beings"and progressively rejected other aspects of astrology.
Kepler and God
Many of Kepler's writings reflect his deep desire to witness to the glory of God. On one occasion, he wrote:
"He simply thought of God's thoughts after Him. That we astronomers are priests of the Most High God in regard to the book of nature, benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but above all, of the glory of God."
Expressing the humility he characterized, and eager to develop a personal relationship with God, Kepler reflected:
"Can I find God, who in the contemplation of the entire universe can almost feel in my hands, even in myself?"
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