Posted by: internationalroutier | February 1, 2011

WikiHelmut #1

posted by Helmut the German, a continuing contribution- part the one

A few common historical and otherwise misconceptions from Wikipedia;

Christopher Columbus‘s efforts to obtain support for his voyages were not hampered by a European belief in a flat Earth. Sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth was spherical, but (correctly) disagreed with Columbus’ estimate of the distance to India, which was approximately 1⁄6th of the actual distance. If the Americas did not exist, and had Columbus continued to India, he would have run out of supplies before reaching it at the rate he was traveling. Without the ability to determine longitude at sea, he could not have corrected his error. This problem remained unsolved until the 18th century, when the lunar distance method emerged in parallel with efforts by inventor John Harrison to create the first marine chronometers. The intellectual class had known[6] that the Earth was spherical since the works of the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle.[7] Eratosthenes made a very good estimate of the Earth’s diameter in the third century BC.[8][9] (See also: Myth of the Flat Earth)


“Never pet a burning dog.”



  1. Welcome back everyone! And many thanks to Helmut for being the first to submit his “What I did over the Summer Holidays” essay. Stay tuned for further parts and feel the scales fall from your very eyes.

  2. Putting the bible to one side due to the disagreement whether the Hebrew “chuwg” meant circle or sphere, the Book of Common Prayer in 1549 has in the normal course of evening service the line “Let the ʃea make a noiʃe, and all that therein is: the round world, and they that dwell therein” (Cantate Domino/Psalm 98). Round earth was church doctrine and everyone was getting it drummed into them every week. Don’t forget the early parts of the scientific revolution were promoted by the church.

    I suspect the “medieval flat earth” myth is a particularly recent invention.

  3. Excellent post, thank you.
    Regards, Le Loup.
    NECLHG Armidale NSW.

  4. The Reverend is quite right. The myth dates from Washington Irving’s 1828 “Life” of Columbus. He must have know it to be false, but smearing the middle ages has been a favourite hobby since the enlightnment. At first it was certainly deliberate – nowadays most people just do it out of habit and ignorance.

  5. Peter thats lovely thanks, but Harrison was a clockmaker not an inventor.

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