Research effects of father absence



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This child was born in Poland in 1473 into a merchant class family. His father died when he was ten, and his mother died soon afterward. His mother's brother, a clergyman, became his and his three siblings' guardian. When he was 15, the uncle sent his brother and him off to a boarding school to obtain a general education and to study theology. The uncle planned for both of them to have careers in the church. After spending three years at the school, the child and his younger brother entered university together.

The child was interested in his theology studies, but he also was enthusiastic about studying nearly everything else he came across. He loved learning, and in a way, spent his entire life in its pursuit. At the university, he mastered Greek, Latin, mathematics, astronomy, optics, economics, geography, philosophy, and the knowledge of medicine of the day. While he was a student there, he obtained and studied a Latin translation of a work by the mathemetician Euclid, as well as several original works by noted scientists of that period. He also loved art, music, and poetry; for relaxation in his spare time he painted and translated Greek poetry. He also changed his name, adopting a Latin version of his Polish last name.

When he graduated from the university, he went to Italy to study canon law, and when he returned, his uncle helped him to obtain a job with the church in Poland. The job was not at all demanding, and so he just continued studying and learning on his own, in a wide variety of subjects. He invented what has come to be known in economics as "Gresham's Law" -- that "bad money drives out the good". He continued with his reading, painting, and studies of philosophy. Gradually, however, his interests began to center on math and astronomy. He started making his own solitary experiments and observations, and keeping careful notes.

When his work started to be published here and there, it did not draw universal praise. Although scientists and mathematicians around Europe began to recognize his genius, many in the public found his ideas to be threatening, and were scornful of them . In Germany, Martin Luther, the protestant reformer, called him a fool who would turn science upside down. And a schoolmaster in Poland wrote and produced a mocking play about him.

This child now is recognized as the founder of modern astronomy, and one of the greatest scholars of the Rennaisance. It is said that his work "forever changed the place of man in the cosmos" because among his many discoveries, he proved that the sun does not revolve around the earth, but the reverse. He is one of those to whom Sir Isaac Newton referred when Newton -- himself a fatherless child -- said "If I have seen further [than other men], it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants." This giant of the enlightenment on whose shoulders modern astronomy, physics, and rocket science still stands was

Nicholas Copernicus, a boy from a "fatherless home."

This fatherless child story was researched and co-written by AJ.

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* The term "fatherless" is used in this series as it is in current research and policy rhetoric by the U.S. federal government, DHHS and the National Fatherhood Initiative, most U.S. states in connection with child custody law and policy, and various family values and fatherhood interest policy and lobbying groups.

"...Just add Dad, the magic ingredient. It's hard to know where wishful thinking becomes deliberate deception. But this argument, advanced by the fathers' rights movement, is like saying that, since Mercedes Benz owners make more money than people who drive Hyundais, you will become wealthy if you buy a Mercedes..." Mike Peterson



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