How do you imagine the life of a scientist? Boring and monotonous, spending endless hours in the lab with no social interaction? Maybe for some but not Tycho Brahe. The 16th century scholar who accurately predicted planetary motion and cataloged hundreds of stars before the telescope had been invented also had a cosmic-sized personal life. Tycho Brahe was born in 1546 to Danish nobles, but at age two was kidnapped to be raised by his uncle instead. His parents didn’t seem to mind. Tycho was supposed to have a career in law, but after witnessing a solar eclipse at thirteen, he began spending more time with mathematics and science professors, who taught him the art of celestial observation. By the time Tycho’s uncle sent him off to Germany a few years later, he had lost interest in his law studies, instead reading astronomy books, improving his instruments, and taking careful notes of the night skies. It wasn’t long before his own measurements were more accurate than those in his books. While in Germany, Tycho got into a bit of an argument with another student at a party over a mathematical formula, resulting in a sword duel and Tycho losing a good-sized chunk of his nose. After that, he was said to have worn a realistic prosthetic of gold and silver that he would glue onto his face. Fortunately, Tycho didn’t need his nose to continue his astronomical work. He kept studying the night sky and creating all sorts of instruments, including a building-sized quadrant for measuring the angles of stars. After months of careful observation, Tycho discovered a new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. The publication of this discovery granted him rock star status and offers of scientific positions all over Europe. Wanting to keep him at home, the King of Denmark offered to give Tycho his own personal island with a state of the art observatory. Called Uraniborg and costing about 1% of Denmark’s entire budget, this observatory was more of a castle, containing formal gardens, rooms for family, staff and visiting royalty, and an underground section just for all the giant instruments. Tycho also built a papermill and printing press for publishing his papers, and a lab for studying alchemy. And since no castle would be complete without entertainment, Tycho employed a clairvoyant dwarf named Jep as court jester. Tycho lived on his island, studying and partying for about 20 years. But after falling out with the new Danish King, he took up an invitation from the Holy Roman Emperor to become the official imperial astronomer in Prague. There, he met another famous astronomer Johannes Kepler, who became his assistant. While Kepler’s work interested him, Tycho was protective of his data, and the two often got into heated arguments. In 1601, Tycho attended a formal banquet where he drank quite a lot but was too polite to leave the table to relieve himself, deciding to tough it out instead. This proved to be a bad idea, as he quickly developed a bladder infection and died a few days later. But over 400 years after his death, Tycho still had a few surprises up his sleeve. When his body was exhumed and studied in 2010, the legendary gold and silver nose was nowhere to be found, with chemical traces suggesting that he wore a more casual brass nose instead. Tycho’s mustache hair was also found to contain unusually high levels of toxic mercury. Was it from a medicine used to treat his bladder infection? A residue from his alchemy experiments? Or did his quarrelsome coworker Johannes Kepler poison him to acquire his data? We may never know, but the next time you think scientists lead boring lives, dig a little deeper. A fascinating story may be just beyond the tip of your nose.