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Nicholas of Cusa was a cardinal of the Catholic Church who lived during the 1400's. He was a great philosopher, mathematician and scientist.

He applied mathematical symbols and concepts to theology. To him, God was the ultimate union between opposites. His most famous observation was this:

Given a circle with a radius "R", a central angle "A", and an arc length "L", the equation for A will, obviously, be

A = (360*L)/(2piR).

If the arc length (L) stays constant, as the radius (R) approaches infinity, the angle A will approach zero. The arc length will, therefore, become a line when the radius is inifinitely large. Every line might simply be part of an infinitely large circle (for, example, the line of time). . .

Because such a union of opposite - the line and the arc - coincide in inifinity, God is, therefore, inifnity. He also made some additional observations about how opposite extremes met in inifinity as well.

Nicolas of Cusa also said "Terra non est centra mundi." It was his belief that the earth was not in fact the center of the universe, but that our earth was just one of many and that each star in the sky was perhaps another sun (he even hypothesized that there might be life be life on these other earths, making him one of the first alien proponents). His views might have been right, but was definitely not accepted church doctrine.

Still, he was a likable guy (and, better yet, had the ear of the Pope) so his views were considered eccentric rather then dangerous. In the century or so between his death and Galileo’s birth the church obviously changed it’s mind.

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