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Mercury poisoning of Danish astronomer ruled out

  • Associated Press
  • November 15, 2012 - 4:53 AM

PRAGUE - Ever since Tycho Brahe suddenly died in 1601, there has been a mystery about whether the Dane whose celestial observations laid the groundwork for modern astronomy fell victim to natural causes or was murdered.

On Thursday, scientists who exhumed his body say one thing is clear: he was not poisoned with mercury.

Brahe was long believed to have died at the age of 54 of a bladder infection. But some speculated that he may have been poisoned with mercury, even at the hands of a king or a rival astronomer.

But scientists who took samples from Brahe's tomb in 2010 in a Prague church where he was buried said Thursday that "mercury concentrations were not sufficiently high" to cause the death.

They didn't say what did.

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