Tycho Brahe was an influential astronomer, but did you know he was also a crazy partier who lost his nose in a duel?
Born in Denmark in 1546, Brahe was raised by his wealthy uncle, and attended universities in Copenhagen and Leipzig.
In 1566, 20-year-old Brahe fought a fellow student in a duel over who was the better mathematician. As a result, he lost a large chunk of his nose. For the rest of his life, he donned a metal prosthetic to cover the disfigurement.
However, this accident wasn’t the strangest event of his life. Once Mr. Brahe went to a banquet. There famous astronomer had drunk excessively, but refused to leave to use the bathroom. It is thought that this caused his bladder to burst and led to his subsequent death. It happened in 1601 at the age of 54.
However, scientists who opened Brahe’s grave in 1901 to mark the 300th anniversary of his death claimed to find mercury in his remains, fueling rumors that the astronomer was poisoned. Some even accused a jealous Johannes Kepler of the crime.
Brahe’s body was exhumed again in 2010. Tests on his bones and beard hairs showed that mercury concentrations in his body were not high enough to have killed him. Researchers also found that greenish stains around the nasal areas of Brahe’s corpse contained traces of copper and zinc, indicating that his fake nose was made of brass and not silver or gold, as many had believed.
Despite his colorful life and death, Brahe contributed a great deal to the field of astronomy. At the time, astronomers held to the idea that the heavens were composed of separate individual spheres, with everything revolving around the Earth.