Tycho Brahe Inventions and Accomplishments


Born in 1546, Tycho Brahe was a nobleman of Danish descent who had a passion for discovering exact empirical facts. His uncle had taken him from his parents at the age of 2 without permission and this is what let Brahe into the world of scholarly studies. He attended Latin school for 6 years and began to study law at the age of 12 at the University of Copenhagen. As the influence of his uncle began to diminish, Brahe discovered his passions led him toward science and astronomy more than they did toward law.

It is in that world of scientific discovery that we find the inventions of Tycho Brahe.

Brahe Enjoyed Studying the Heavens

One of the great passions that Tycho Brahe had was to observe the heavens, especially the night sky. He was granted an estate on Hven and began building a large astronomical research institute there where he could take measurements of the night sky. Over time, he discovered that he needed better instruments and more resources to document his facts, so he founded paper-making factories on the island so his data could be properly recorded.

Can observational data be considered an invention? It can be if the way the data is observed is truly unique and based on scientific discovery. That’s where Brahe’s contributions to the world of astronomy and science come into play. The astronomical data that Brahe collected over his lifetime led to the development of the three laws of planetary motion because the data was based on empirical facts that had been observed.

One of these observations led to a fundamental change in the way the cosmos was perceived. Most believed that the universe outside of the lunar orbit was unchangeable, yet a supernova appeared in 1572 in the constellation of Cassiopeia. Brahe’s observations proved that the start was not in the territorial sphere below the moon and suggested that it was a fixed star because no parallax could be detected.

Brahe Also Invented the Prosthetic Nose

While studying in Germany in 1566, Brahe was in a duel with one of his cousins over the validity of a mathematical formula. As a result of the duel, he lost part of his nose because of a sword strike. Because of this incident, Brahe formed a prosthetic nose that was made of brass, silver, gold, and possibly copper. He also created different noses that could be worn for specific events, so one with precious metals would be worn for formal occasions, while a more lightweight prosthetic could be used for daily wear.

Tyco Brahe died unexpectedly in 1601 after attending a formal event. Some speculate he was poisoned while others believe that he may have died from a burst bladder. Whatever the case may be, his observations are a foundational invention in science and astronomy because the foundational laws of gravity and motion are based upon his data.

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