Science Birthdays, December 14

Today is the birthday of Tycho Brahe, born in 1546. He was an astronomer and alchemist who refuted the Aristotelian idea of an unchanging universe. He tried to combine the Copernican system (that’s where the sun is the center of the solar system) and the Ptolemeic system (that’s where the earth is at the center) into his own Tychonic system (that would be a geoheliocentric theory). He was the last of the important naked eye astronomers, working from his observatory without telescopes. Yes, he did have a nose made out of silver and gold.  He lost his original nose in a dual and had one made that he glued on.  It probably also had some copper in it. After that he became interested in alchemy and medicine. Tycho had a tame elk which was really a moose.  He used to let the elk drink beer, and it got so drunk one night it fell down the steps and was killed.

Today is also the birthday of Edward Tatum, born in 1909; He showed that genes controlled individual steps in metabolism. He was a heavy smoker and died of emphysema and heart failure at the age of 65.

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