Scientists Identify Body of Copernicus

DNA proves elderly man buried in Poland is father of astronomy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2008 6:20 PM CST
A computer-generated reconstruction shows what astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus may have looked like.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – More than 400 years after Copernicus determined man's place in the universe, scientists returned the favor by pinpointing his grave in an old Polish cathedral. Using DNA from a tooth and a bone, scientists identified a 70-year-old man buried in an unmarked grave as the astronomer who determined that the Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice versa, Discover reports.

Scientists matched the DNA with a strand of hair found in one of the astronomer's books. Researchers knew he was buried among the many anonymous graves in the cathedral and used radar to scan all the bodies. When they found one of a man buried around age 70, they extracted DNA and found an old friend. Plans are in place for a tomb more befitting one of the world's scientific giants.