Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When are we going to see a movie about Tycho Brahe?

It looks like 16th century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe's body is going be exhumed (again) in Prague. We are still trying to figure out what killed him. Now, it is generally believed that he died of a bladder infection. Now Tycho's death always features in intro astronomy classes. How can we not bring it up? It is thought that his bladder exploded at a royal banquet - as he was too polite to excuse himself and go to the loo. Apart from a great (kinda) sad story, it is a great reminder: When you have to go - then you have to go.

Any hoo, so now it seems that he may have been poisoned. The problem is that he could have accidentally poisoned himself - as he was also an alchemist and he may have played with mercury. But more intriguingly, some also think that his assistant - none other than Johannes Kepler - may have killed him, perhaps to gain access to his data (there indeed was a feud between Kepler and Tycho's family about the ownership of the Tycho's fantastic data - data that ended up playing a central role in Kepler's laws!). Now here is an astro-thriller that we had been waiting for. One legendary astronomer kills another legendary astronomer for the sake of...DATA (cue in your own dramatic music here). But not just any data - but data that will help change our view of the universe forever!! (some more dramatic music please...). Oh - and Kepler wrote perhaps the first science-fiction ever, Somnium, as a trip to the Moon, and his mother was accused and tried for witchcraft, partly because of some of the things written in Somnium. I'm not making these things up. This can be a phenomenal film - set in the backdrop of fantastically changing times and the scientific revolution.

Terry Giliam: this movie has your name written all over it. 

Just in case you thought that we had run out of plot twists regarding Tycho's death:
More recently a theory has surfaced that the astronomer was killed on the orders of the Danish king, Christian IV, because Brahe had allegedly had an affair with the king's mother.
Now this is gold. Oh and talking about gold, Tycho also lost his nose in a duel, when he was 20 years old, and wore a prosthetic nose, possibly gold or silver, for the rest of his life. And in his free time he catalogued over a 1000 new stars and helped laid the foundations for the scientific revolution.

Good stuff!

Read the full story about Tycho's exhumation here. The results are expected next year. Stay tuned.


Bo said...

good point, tycho's story absolutely has movie written all over it.

Anonymous said...

how about a CSI episode?

killing your supervisor for data... hmmmm....

Atif Khan said...


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