Welcome to this month's Science in Fiction feature! Science in Fiction is a meme I created to showcase the wonderful aspects of science in Young Adult fiction novels. For more information and previous feature, check out the "Science in Fiction" tag!
This month, I'm featuring Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman!
There are a lot of different directions I could take this post, because Traitor Angels is, in its core, a heavily science-focused book. This book is set in the 1600s, a time when the Church enforced the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe. In the 1500s, Copernicus introduced the belief that the Earth rotated on its axis once a day, and revolved around the Sun during the course of a year. In the 1600s, Galileo Galilei championed heliocentrism. He was found guilty of heresy and was confined to his house for the rest of his life.
In Traitor Angels, Antonio is quite interested in astronomy. Today, I'm going to showcase some of the scientific discoveries in astronomy, that bring us to our heliocentric models today!
In early, early times, people believed that the Earth was flat. The Flat Earth model stuck around for centuries, dating all the way back to AD times.
Geocentrism: belief that the Earth is the center of all celestial/heavenly bodies. This was a belief of Aristotle and Ptolemy, and was adopted by the Church for hundreds of years. The Church justified this belief with several verses from the Bible, like Psalm 93:1, 96:10, 1 Chronicles 16:30, and Psalm 104:5.
Heliocentrism: belief that the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun, which is the center of the Solar System. This theory may have been postulated as early as the third century BC by Aristarchus of Samos. But it wasn't until the 1500s, when Copernicus came along and came up with a mathematical model justifying the heliocentric theory, that the theory gained attention.
In the 1500s, Tycho Brahe introduced the Tychonic system, which combined the geocentric and heliocentric models. Essentially, Earth was still the center of the universe, but Brahe got the motions of the Sun and other planets correct, relative to the motions of Earth revolving around the Sun in the heliocentric model.
In the 1600s, Johannes Kepler (assistant to Brahe) introduced the idea of elliptical orbits. He also presented laws of motion (Kepler's Laws of Motion, as we know them today).
In the 1600s, Galileo Galilei supported the heliocentric model, and provided support using his invented telescope. Galileo's telescope could project upright, magnified images to the viewers. Galileo observed sunspots, which was something that Antonio pointed out to Elizabeth!
In the late 1600s, Sir Isaac Newton presented a theory on gravitation, which he applied to planets. We use this relationship today, called the law of universal gravitation:
In 1750, Thomas Wright proposed that the Milky Way galaxy is a large body of stars held together by gravity. At the time, no other galaxies had been discovered.
In the 1920s, Edwin Hubble used a new and very powerful telescope to take photographs of the Milky Way, which show the spiral shape of the galaxy. Previously, scientists weren't sure if the spiral nebulae were separate galaxies, or part of the Milky Way (the latter is correct!).
Science has come a long way, folks. :)