Earle Havens can almost hear their voices.
Each time Havens steps inside the George Peabody Library, he senses the muted exclamations, the murmured back-and-forth of a conversation that's been going on now for more than two millennia.
In one corner, there's a treatise from the third century B.C. in which Aristarchus of Samos estimated the distances between the sun, moon and earth. Across the room is an extremely rare unbound volume of Copernicus' "Revolution of the Celestial Spheres," in which the 15th-century astronomer advanced the then-heretical notion that the Earth was not the center of the universe.
Those findings inspired the work of 16th-century...