Friday, November 21, 2008

Found: The grave of Copernicus

The great astronomer Copernicus accurately located the Sun and Earth in the solar system, but locating his grave has been a challenge. It's known he was buried in a Roman Catholic cathedral in Frombork, Poland, but the grave wasn't marked. Now a Polish archaeologist reports that remains disinterred in 2005 have been matched to Copernicus' portraits and other information, including a DNA from a hair sample that likely belonged to him. The skull has been used to build up a computer-generated portrait (see title link) of what the eminent scientist looked like at the time of his death.
COMMENT: OK, we found him. The article does not say what the plan is, but I hope he will be reburied soon with appropriate honor. I've never liked the idea of relics of the dead being displayed or stored. It's not about the deceased so much as it is about human dignity in general. It's legitimate to do tests, such as X-raying mummies or taking DNA from Kennewick Man, for valid scientific purposes, but the remains should then be re-interred, if at all possible, with respect for the culture the person belonged to.

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