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The Copernican Shift

In 1530, the astronomer Nicolas Copernicus published his work De Revolutionibus, which asserted that, contrary to popular belief, the earth was not the center of the universe. Keep in mind that all his observations were made with the naked eye-this was a hundred years before the invention of the telescope. Copernicus's idea was violently rejected by scientists and religious authorities alike, and definitive proof of it did not come along for 150 years. But even before supporting evidence was gathered, forward thinkers had already adopted this new paradigm: Man was not smugly placed in the center of everything, but rather was clinging to one small sphere in a vast universe. This change in paradigm-what I call the Copernican Shift-was an important step in the maturation of science; astronomers would no longer be content to accept what appeared to be obvious.

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When you are looking at any problem situation, keep Copernicus in mind. What assumptions are you making? Are you (and your product) in the center of the universe? Really?


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