Martin Luther was not the only faculty member of the University of Wittenberg to spark a revolution. His colleague, George Joachim Rheticus, was largely responsible for promulgating the insight of Copernicus, that the earth was not the center of the universe but rather revolved around the sun. In fact, both professors were promoting Copernican revolutions, one in science and the other in theology.
Rheticus was brought into the faculty at Wittenberg by Philip Melanchthon, the Chancellor, as a professor of mathematics. He served at the same time that Luther was a professor of theology. Rheticus learned about the work of Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus and wanted to study under him. Melanchthon gave him leave to do so. Rheticus became the only student Copernicus ever had, and he made himself indispensible. Rheticus wrote an early account of Copernicus’s theory that the earth orbited the sun along with the other planets. He then talked Duke Albert of Prussia into giving permission for the publication of the ailing Copernicus’s controversial work on the subject, De Revolutionibus. . . .(“On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.”) Rheticus edited Copernicus’s manuscript, added his own trigonometric tables, and supervised its publication. The year after De Revolutionibus was released, Copernicus died. But Rheticus played a key role in the Copernican revolution.