(CN) - A first-edition copy of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium
(1543), a major work in the history of science, believed to have been burned up in a 2004 fire, has been found again, among books waiting restoration.
Nicolaus Copernicus' book proved that the Earth revolved around the Sun, a proposition that incensed the Catholic Church, which insisted that the Earth was the center of the universe. The Vatican in 1633 threatened the astronomer Galileo Galilei with death for defending its conclusions, and in 1758 put the volume on its list of prohibited books.
The copy owned by the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar, Germany was thought to have been destroyed in a 2004 fire that burned up 50,000 books, the online bookseller Biblio.com said in a statement. But the volume turned up this month in a group of damaged books awaiting restoration.
Damaged as it is, the monetary value copy is estimated at $1.8 million, Biblio.com said.
Galileo, who recanted his endorsement of the Copernican theory under the Vatican's threat of torture and death, allegedly muttered, about the Earth, "Eppur si muove,"
- and yet it moves - as he recanted.