‘Did Copper-nick-us?’ An Ode To Nicolaus Copernicus. & How Mankind Fought Back

Kind Attention: Mr. Copernicus (Dead: May 24, 1543)

At the outset, one hopes you are dead, and well.

Very few in their lifetimes can lay claim to fanning a Revolution. That you managed to overturn centuries of the Old Order is testimony to your towering presence in the annals of history. With one disarmingly simple observation, that the Earth revolved around the Sun, you changed the course of Science, decimated greats such as Aristotle and Ptolemy, and dwarfed the Earth and Earthlings alike with your mighty brain. Mankind has never been the same since.

You set us on the path of ruin.

You were born in the city of Thorn. We, Sire, live in one.

Pardon the sudden change in track but your passport to Science immortality inadvertently set in motion a chain of events so intriguing and dastardly that we, hapless humans, are paying the price for your intellectual bravura. All was well before your tome, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, shook the world. Man was exultant in the secure ignorance that Earth, his home, was the center of the Universe. Let us pause awhile to digest that feeling.

For someone living in a post-Copernican world, the idea of being the Center of Everything is a pleasing thought, a much coveted Holy Grail position, and the closest to experiencing Nirvana. It is gratifying to believe that those small and big spheres strewn around the vast expanse of darkness that few care to see, are silently, obediently, doing your bidding. Revolving around you, in daily obeisance. You ended our tryst with ignorance and shattered our world of dreamy illusions. For that, we shall ever remain ungrateful.

Whilst earlier, Man found satisfaction in simple, trivial and quite useless activities; star-gazing and sleeping, for instance, post your Revolution, we have been forced to attain a level of sophistication in our activities. With the realisation of our triviality in the larger scheme of the Universe, we have endeavoured to conjure up novel ways to create an illusion of leading a meaningful life, of etching our ‘special’ place among…no one, really.

Come, take a closer look. Woven in the tapestry of trivialities, you shall find novelties that are likely to boggle even a mighty a brain as yours. Dislike for fellow humans has increased gradually over the centuries, since your Revolution. Much of this can be attributed to your heliocentric discovery. Earlier, everyone was equal, united, in a Universal sense. Now, it is the opposite. The sceptre of inconsequential existence has forced humans to seek solace in inhuman endeavours, in an amusing attempt at differentiation. Our yearning for differentiation and infusing some semblance of meaning in our lives has led us to specialise in an art-form called Social Networking and in the mad pursuit of papers of (supposed) value.

…which brings me to one of your rarely known talents. Finance and Economics.

You, Sire, were a true genius. Of that there cannot be a shred of doubt.

Not many of us know that you lay the foundation stones for what eventually became the Gold Standard. And the metallization of currency. Truly remarkable indeed, for a Scientist. That you even managed to carve a name for yourself in history, untouched by that manipulative successor of yours, Sir Isaac Newton, is commendable.

You stated what eventually became famous as Gresham’s Law (bad money will drive out good money). In a remarkable display of sanity sadly absent among most of our present-day Economists, you cautioned us about the ill-effects of inundating economies with ‘cheap’ money. That ‘cheap’ money shall dominate at the expense of the ‘strong’ money. We, Sire, have not listened, for we haven’t cultivated the habit of listening to the whispers of Reason.

While you did your bit to remind us of our uselessness, we have retaliated by repudiating all of your sound principles of currency management. We tried our hand at using metals as currency, but wily fellows clandestinely but repeatedly nicked the gold, silver and copper content out of our coins. The bad money was driving out the good. But we continued believing that our coins had the same value as the days of yore. Yes, Sire, go ahead, let out that chuckle.

Time wore on and we realised that we didn’t have enough metals to put into our coins, so we blasphemed your principles further. We decided to abandon metals as a base of currency, for good. We moved to paper. Paper gave us a free rein, with no upper bound. We could print as much as we wanted (till the trees bid us goodbye). Our appetites have been insatiable since. We now have so much paper floating in the world, the ones in our wallets are well-nigh useless. Yet, we continue to believe that papers are valuable; hence the maddening pursuit of monetary enrichment. Yes, Sire, go ahead, let out that chuckle.

With one disarmingly simple observation, that paper could replace metals, we changed the course of Finance. Mankind has never been the same since.

You tried to nick us. We reciprocated. And set ourselves on the path of ruin…


But you shall remain one of the most intriguing polymaths ever to have lived on Earth.

You were at the Center of it all.

And, you weren’t.

I remain, your ardent admirer.



23 thoughts on “‘Did Copper-nick-us?’ An Ode To Nicolaus Copernicus. & How Mankind Fought Back

    1. Thank you, Eric.


      A post-Copernican world is where we aren’t at the center of things. So, for us, imagining ourselves as the Center is a dream, a reminiscence of the pre-Copernican world.

  1. “… on the path of ruin.” No, really? Still, there is at least some heartening news that I’ve been hearing lately. Its about a bill that’s scheduled to come before congress immediately after the November election (or when the price of gas exceeds $5/gallon, whichever occurs first). The purpose of the bill is to help soften the impact of rising fuel prices by authorizing the immediate distribution of absorbent rolls of two-dollar bills to all Rest Stop restrooms along interstate highways throughout the country. However its passage may prove to be a little dicey as Charmin, Huggies, Tampax, and several other ‘personal maintenance’ companies appear to be forming a coalition to oppose its passage on the grounds that it will effectively ‘tank’ a substantial part of their business. And of course treehugger groups across the country are expected to unite with others who support using corn-based bio-fuel, in order to prevent the loss of countless trees by replacing Washington toilet paper with bins of re-recyclable corn cobs.

    So…thankfully, there is still hope in sight?! (He says, as he begins to search Craigs List for bicycle-powered donkey carts.) 😉

    1. We humans are extremely meticulous about focusing on the frivolous.

      I share your feelings for the climate-junkies. All things said and done and balanced, I think they inflict more pain on the very environment that they yearn to protect.

      Its all part of ‘doing something meaningful’, you see. 🙂

      1. You are kind, lovely lady! 🙂

        I’m in the process of dusting off the virtual pen. Keep an eye open, something might be up soon.

  2. Post Capernican world – what a revolution for humankind’s self image. I know a number of people that need to be made aware that they are not the center of the universe either.

    1. It seems we are living in a pre-Copernican world, after all! But the world would be a less amusing place, were that to happen. The Center-of-the-Universe crowd can be quite amusing.

  3. It is true then! The Earth does revolve around the Sun. When did this start, coz earlier it was the other way round? Sometime in the early 16th century you say. And Copernicus was the guy who started it all? You are right, in pillorying him for such ideas that changed the course of humanity.
    On a serious note, found this post very informative. Had heard of Copernicus, but did not know that he was guilty of all the things you have said he did.

    1. Copernicus was one of the most colourful personalities that the world does not know much about. He was a medic, lawyer, scientist, economist et al rolled in one. Truly brilliant personality.

    1. Ambling along, sparring and wading through the mundane and a perennially malfunctioning WordPress. I hope to put a post out soon.

      How have you been? How’s Kolkata been treating you?

  4. Copernicus Copper-nicked us.And Columbus Col-humped-us.
    I’m lookin’ for a word that would rhyme with ‘Russians’.
    I need to borrow BoneyM’s helpless tone in Rasputin as they sang, “Oh this Russians!”
    Yeah, I need to roar at these C’s for the rut their bravura has landed us in.

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