It is rare in history that one unwitting step by a modest individual results in an impact of momentous proportions. Such an instance of chaos theory in human events is illustrated by the 25-year-old Rheticus’s traveling many miles from Wittenberg to Kraków to meet the then-little-known Copernicus, back in the 15th century. Rheticus spent three years with the earth-moving astronomer, assimilating the geokinetic astronomy, a truly revolutionary idea for the time. The originator of the idea was not too eager to publicize this idea. Rheticus got permission to publish a first report of the mammoth work and eventually the entire new-science-ushering classic that was to dramatically transform humanity’s conception of the universe. The man was a gifted mathematician himself: he systematized trigonometry and brought out one of the first complete trigonometric tables.
This very readable book engagingly recounts the details of the life journey of this little-known figure who served the cause of science in an important way by unveiling what might have remained unknown for centuries, who was fascinated by Paracelsus and who dabbled in medicine, and who did many other things. Through this scholarly biography, Danielson, a professor of English, (University of British Columbia) has done historical justice to this little-remembered “lover of stars and triangles, who became the first Copernican and delivered his teacher’s priceless legacy to future generation[s].”