Out Biking

The greatest adventure this summer was to travel to the island Ven, between Sweden and Denmark, and then experience its beauty by going around it by bike. You don't need your own bike, since there are plenty to rent in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but only one colour.

We started by biking along narrow lanes and paths very near the steep coastline and experienced tall lighthouses, small churches (one of them converted into an art gallery), an outdoor museum, cosy restaurants and cafés, and endless fields of wheat and rapeseed.
From Skåne July 2015
A must when visiting Ven is to go to the Tycho Brahe museum. Its location in the middle of the small island with almost no roads makes it hard to miss. His castle Uranienborg is long gone, but parts of his garden have been restored.

Tycho Brahe (1546 – 1601) was a genuine product of the Renaissance. Since he was born in Skåne and lived on Ven, both Sweden and Denmark make claims on him, since these areas belonged to Denmark who lost them through wars to Sweden.

As a nobleman he had the opportunity to go to university and soon became interested in astronomy. He paid a lot of attention to empirical observations and developed new equipment and installed it in a special building beside his castle, Stjärneborg. You could say that he was one of the first to start a research institute, since he employed lots of research assistants to make the observations and gathered many scientists at his dinner table.

Although nobody can dispute that Brahe contributed to the development of our knowledge about the starts and planets, a few things should be noted. Despite all his devotion to empirical data and his knowledge of Copernicus model, he advocated for a system with an immobile Earth for religious reasons. His apprentice Kepler tried, but was unable, to persuade Tycho to adopt the heliocentric model of the solar system. When Brahe died, Kepler used his data to prove him wrong.

Brahe was a keen promoter of cross-disciplinary research and a holistic perspective, which led him to combine astronomy with astrology and alchemy, although the latter topics do not count as science these days. He let his younger sister Sophia participate in the research, although he was not that happy when she started to come up with theories of her own not regarding it as proper things to do for women.

He was not very much in favour of outreach. Instead he wrote in one of his publications, that he was very glad to be away from all the disturbance from common people. The people living at Ven were not very happy, since he did not contribute much to the development of the island but instead forced them to work for him. However, he worked hard on disseminating his work by building his own paper mill to ensure material for his publishing company.
From Skåne July 2015
In sum, he was a rather typical scientist. Right about some things, and very wrong about others. Much under the influence of external powers such as the church and the Danish king, although claiming scientific freedom. Carefully guarding his intellectual assets such as his infrastructure and data, but also passing it on to the younger generation. Always in need of more funding, and very much focused on publishing. However, I dare say that few modern scientists would stick to their claims so hard that they would defend them in a duel!

By the way, in Sweden we have a saying that translates into "out biking". It is used when somebody has a very strange opinion, that all the rest think is wrong or stupid.

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