Paradigm - the unwritten rules in which we literally govern our lives with. When these rules are broken or violated we become uncomfortable. It is the need of every human being on earth to have direction and order. Without direction and order we find ourselves lost, confused, and even helpless. Paradigms are found virtually everywhere and on many different levels. However, the role of paradigm in science holds a very important position. Paradigm in science simply governs the ways in which you are expected to look at your data. Thus, you could say that paradigm acts as a problem solver. Throughout history many scientists have continually found themselves forced to challenge the paradigms of their studies. Their ideas may be entirely and undoubtably correct, but paradigm shoots it down immediately. Why does this happen? It's actually quite easy to understand. People don't like change. Many scientists of the past including Nicolaus Copernicus have all been forced to express their correct ideas in the light of paradigm.
Nicolaus Copernicus discovered and understood something about the universe that no man before him had realized. In fact, the changes Copernicus would make to the structure of the universe would change the ways in which many people lived. Previously, both Aristotle and Ptolemy had believed that the universe was simply earth-centered. They had evidence that logically supported this idea. For instance, the sun came up in the east and set in the west. The next day this very same process was repeated as the sun would come up in the east. This gave the illusion that the sun was actually moving around the earth.
However, Copernicus realized that the earth was not at the center of the universe. He changed the systems that Aristotle and Ptolemy had previously used and ultimately concluded that the universe was actually sun-centered. Copernicus was correct, but the role of paradigm suddenly kicked in and began to hamper his discoveries. The world was essentially Aristotelian at the time and thus lead to much criticism of Copernicus' work. People naturally asked questions: Why do planets move eternally around the sun? Why is it that when we let go of something heavy it doesn't fly away to the sun if the sun is the center? If the heavens we see aren't perfect then where is perfection to be found? Where is heaven? Even the church rejected the work of Copernicus because according to Aristotelian beliefs the heavens were supposed to tell about the glory of God and remind us of our imperfections on earth. According to the work of Copernicus the heavens were not perfect and this left the church in a very uncomfortable situation. If the heavens weren't perfect, then what was perfect? Eventually, the issue was presented to the public and people worldwide were given the chance to discuss and analyze this theory that broke paradigm.
It is not easy to visualize or understand just how much of an impact these Copernican views made on society at the time. Perhaps, to understand the impact we should look at how a "bizarre and truthful" discovery could effect the way in which we live today. Tomorrow morning the alarm clock goes off and you roll over to get out of bed. Proceeding into the bathroom you turn on the radio and a newsflash catches your attention. Scientists have discovered a vaccine that cures every disease known to man! Does that sound completely unrealistic? Of course it does because we cannot imagine or accept how the world change if that really did happen. Biologically a vaccine for everything is impossible, but what if by chance there was a vaccine for everything? The world would change and it would probably take a while for people to shift their paradigm in favour of a disease-free world.
When the work of Copernicus was brought to the public the response was basically split into two distinct reactions. Astronomers who were able to read and understand the theories accepted the idea as common knowledge. The data provided by Copernicus were seen as being correct and astronomers began using the new Copernican system in their calculations. However, non-astronomers were unable to understand the technical reasons that favoured the Copernican system. The idea of the earth moving around the sun was unthinkable and easily dismissed as nonsense. The public remained true to the paradigm that was set by Aristotle and Ptolemy. It became quite clear that the Copernican system would not be adapted by the general public. In fact, it would not be until the seventeenth century that the Copernican system would begin to revolutionize the public. The work of Galileo, Kepler, and later Newton all proved clearly, beyond any doubts, that what Copernicus had published earlier was correct. Paradigm had finally let down it's barriers and welcomed the Copernican system as common knowledge.
In conclusion, there is no doubt he work of paradigm played a vital role in the acceptance of the correct theories that Nicolaus Copernicus brought forward. Copernicus faced paradigm and broke the unwritten rules when he formulated his sun-centered universe theory. His work was so heavily rejected that it would not be accepted totally until the days of Galileo. Although, many scientists today do not face paradigm on quite the same level Copernicus did. It is important to understand that paradigm is a naturally occurring characteristic of human beings. Without paradigm we would live in a world of uncertainty.