“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
– R. Buckminster Fuller
In 1439, German blacksmith Johannes Gutenberg introduced the movable type to Europe that enabled mass communication at heretofore unprecedented scale, helping usher in the Early Modern Age. Among the early beneficiaries of the novel printing press was a young student, Nicolaus Copernicus, who amassed a sizable library of astronomy books in Kraków during the late 15th century. His synthesis of the newly liberated information resulted in the publication of Dē revolutionibus orbium coelestium, which transformed a convoluted, geocentric model of planetary motion into the elegant heliocentric model that we have today. Indeed, the conceptual reframing of extant, seemingly abstruse data to explain the revolution of celestial bodies was so radical that the word revolution became synonymous with the now-familiar notion of overthrowing the established system. Dominoes have been falling ever since: the French, American, and Industrial Revolutions, etc.
We are now a quarter century since the Internet was introduced to the world. As profound as the information revolution precipitated by the printing press was, it pales in comparison to the Internet’s knowledge liberation. Who, then, will be the Copernicus of our time? Who will be our da Vinci, Newton, Descartes, Shakespeare, Locke, and Darwin? Who will envision the models that will catalyze the next great intellectual revolutions and lead humanism to a new phase?
The Copernicus Prize is an effort intended to spark original, revolutionary thinking to challenge prevailing models in every discipline of the sciences and the humanities.