News & Stories
May 9, 2019

Finding our Place in the Solar System

ROME, Ga. –  Berry College Professor of Physics and Astronomy Todd Timberlake recently co-authored “Finding Our Place in the Solar System: The Scientific Story of the Copernican Revolution,” published by Cambridge University Press.

Timberlake teaches courses on the Copernican Revolution, the history of galactic astronomy and cosmology, and extra-terrestrial life, among others. Although he usually teaches college students, he has taught audiences ranging from kindergarten children in the U.S. to Tibetan Buddhist monks in India. He is passionate about incorporating the history and philosophy of science into the teaching of science and he is an expert at using computers as a tool for teaching physics and astronomy.

The book, “Finding Our Place in the Solar System,” gives a detailed account of how the Earth was displaced from its traditional position at the center of the universe to be recognized as one of several planets orbiting the Sun under the influence of a universal gravitational force. It covers the Copernican Revolution, which is the transition from the ancient worldview to a modern understanding of planetary motion. And it provides an explanation of the scientific disputes over our place in the solar system and the work of the great scientists who helped settle them.

The book stems from a course, AST 120: The Copernican Revolution, that co-author Paul Wallace began at Berry and Timberlake has taught for the past decade. Wallace, now an instructor in physics at Agnes Scott College, worked at Berry College as an associate professor of physics and astronomy until 2008. Wallace received his doctorate in nuclear physics from Duke University. Timberlake began teaching at Berry in 2001 after receiving his doctorate in physics at the University of Texas.

Timberlake also recently won the Martindale Award of Distinction which recognizes members of the Berry community who promote continuous improvement, implement innovative approaches, and inspire others to extraordinary achievement as well as the Mary S. & Samuel Poe Carden Award which recognizes the highest standards of teaching, scholarship, helpfulness to students, and other contributions to the college community.


Public Relations Student Assistant Alisa Jordan

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