Recently I participated in the charitable event Wonder Con in Costa Rica. There, I met new friends and one in particular, Framk Maneiro (Batman´s voice for Latin America), suggested that I should write about history and Christopher Columbus.
If you remember, my previous post was about Galileo. In that post, I discussed his ideas about heliocentrism and how he discredited the Ptolemaic model, which states that Earth is the center of the Universe.
Since the event, I have been reading about the discovery of America. By that time, the shape of the Earth was thought to be spherical since a long time before (this was necessary for the Ptolemaic model). Then, why do textbooks state that Christopher Columbus proposed that Earth was round and that the majority of people at that time thought it flat?
In Mesopotamia, in their mythology, they described the world as a disk floating in the ocean with a dome for sky. The Greeks started to speculate about Earth’s spherical shape: Pythagoras was the first to propose this theory close to 500 B.C. Years later, Aristotle while studying the stars, declared that the Earth is a sphere. After that, Eratosthenes established the dimensions of our Planet’s circumference with amazing precision.
As a result, by the time Christopher was looking to reach Asia by crossing the Atlantic, it is very likely that he read or had contact with Aristotle’s and Eratosthenes’ theories. In fact, Christopher’s origins are unconfirmed, but his origin did not stop him to study by himself. In other words, he was self-educated, and, in his life, he was exposed to relevant information leading to America’s discovery. Colon’s father-in-law was a sailor during the conquest of the Atlantic Islands and left his journals and maps to Colon. In addition, it is known that Colon lived some time in Portugal. That is where he probably devoted himself to studying topics about sailing and Earth’s spherical shape. Also, Colon traveled to England and, in spite the lack of physical evidence, it is probable that he has had contact with the stories about Vikings who managed to reach America.
It does not matter how much history has aimed at reducing and minimizing Colon’s obstacles and difficulties to materialize his adventure towards the “Indias”: the truth is that it was never easy. Obtaining the financing led Colon to meet with Portugal’s Kind and several noblemen in Spain. He received negative answers from the Spanish King and Queen, and he had to wait for them to end the Granada War to call their attention towards his intentions and aspirations.
When he finally got financing and the King and Queen accepted his conditions, he understood that he did not have the support from local sailors and had to find strategic allies: true leaders, within the sailor community. All of this and his adventure had not begun.
While on the journey, Colon noticed a huge mistake: the calculations of Earth’s circumference where wrong by several miles. This almost end in a mutiny and his death due to the shortage of food. Besides, halfway through the journey he had to survive the revolting of one of the captains and the sinking of the largest vessel in the expedition.
This led me to question why we face challenges in life. What is the purpose of chasing dreams, objectives and plans? Why did Galileo never give up on his ideas despite not having evidence to prove them right? Why did Christopher insisted on traveling to Asia with the little support from the different interested parties? Why do I write this blog?
I am going to tell you. The more I learn about humans and their lives; I see more clearly the fight and the adversity. Not as negative consequences of existence, but as motivation and motor to get up every day with purpose: to transform the negative to positive energy. After all, energy can neither be created or destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. Demonstrating that Earth orbits the Sun or demonstrating that you can travel to Asia by the Atlantic has no importance. The road, the reading, the research, the travel, the ideas…that was and that is the base for life.