Astronomer with an iron nose…

While I was walking through the environs and fairs, some startling events had happened in Prague.

Few paid attention to the event: on Monday the archaeologists raised from the grave of one of the greatest astronomers of history Tycho Brahe in the Church of Our Lady before Tyn.

 

The archaeologists did this due to several reasons. So to speak, quite mysterious reasons. At first, the archaeologists want to make sure that in the church it is the remains of the great astronomer. No one says what caused such doubts. After the previous exhumation in 1901 the Czechs still have some questions to the Dane.

Secondly, scientists are trying to determine the cause of death of the famous astronomer.

Actually from the moment of death no one can answer this question unambiguously.

 

According to the «official» voiced version of the 17th century the astronomer died because of “Break of bladder” during the royal feast. So to speak, he was like a victim to etiquette, which didn’t allow any of the courtiers to leave the table until the event is end. This version is convincing for the 17th century, but in the early 20th it could not stand any criticism.

According to the second version, Tycho Brahe was poisoned due to the order of Danish King Christian the 4th. Because of this monarch an astronomer ran away from his native Denmark to the Czech capital.

 

It is time to mention not QUIET disposition of Mr. Brahe.

He was the descendent of the ancient Scandinavian kind, family tree of which begins from terrible Vikings. Brahe (by the way, it is adapted Latin version of his name, the Danish astronomer’s name sounds like «Tyge”) was a very restless guy. Actually the hot blood of the ancestors and man’s upbringing contributed to it extremely. Tycho was raised by his uncle — Admiral of Danish Fleet. That is why due to a hot temper he received a special sign when he was young. During one of the duels (which were modern in the 17th century) his nose was cut. As a result, Brahe wore a silver prosthesis instead of missing organ to the end of his life.

 

Let’s go back to King Christian and causes of flight to Prague. For a long time

Brahe was at the court of the Danish King Frederick II, the patron of sciences. Of course a hot-tempered and crotchety protégé of Frederick made a lot of enemies. They whispered to Prince Christian, that Brahe had a liaison connection with his mother. Outraged Christian gave up financing all research projects and forced Brahe to leave the country. But even after that Christian the 4th made some attempts to get even with him. According to one version, this story ended when the famous astronomer was poisoned.

 

According to the third and most melodramatic version, Brahe was poisoned by his favorite pupil, Johann Kepler. This version became popular in the early 19th century, along with «The Story of Mozart and Salieri”. The supporters of this version believe that all the works of Kepler are based on the foundation laid by Brahe. They say the learner had been very jealous for teacher’s talent, so he poisoned him and then took his labors to reach the success.

Well, I think that such version is extremely weird. To me, it is like blaming Marie Curie in her husband’s death, because she could easily poison him by polonium (together they have discovered this radioactive element).

 

 

So, in order to disprove or confirm all of these versions Czech, Swedish and Danish archaeologists plunged shovels into the bowels of the Prague cathedral and took the remains of restless astronomer. The remains will be carefully studied in several universities using the most modern techniques (computer tomography, DNA analysis, proton-induced X-rays, etc.). Scientists are not sure that they will succeed in study of the mystery of Brahe’s death. But if they find the mercury content in the remains, they will understand whether it was a deadly content of the mercury in the body or just a consequence of the fact that in addition to astronomy Brahe liked alchemy.

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