Christopher Columbus

First evidence of HMS Erebus found. August 15, 1855.

The search by Europeans for a western shortcut by sea from Europe to Asia began with the voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and continued through the mid-19th century with a long series of exploratory expeditions originating mainly in England. These voyages, when to any degree successful, added to the sum of European geographic knowledge about the Western Hemisphere, particularly North America, and as that knowledge grew larger, attention gradually turned toward the Arctic. By 1800, the discoveries had already showed conclusively that no Northwest Passage navigable by ships lay in the temperate latitudes between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. In 1804, Sir John Barrow became Second Secretary of the Admiralty, a post he held until 1845, and began a push by the Royal Navy to comple...

The Egg of Columbus. October 12, 1492.

An egg of Columbus refers to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact. The expression refers to an apocryphal story in which Christopher Columbus, having been told that discovering the Americas was inevitable and no great accomplishment, challenges his critics to make an egg stand on its tip. After his challengers give up, Columbus does it himself by tapping the egg on the table to flatten its tip. The Columbus story may have originated with Italian historian and traveler Girolamo Benzoni. In his book History of the New World, published in 1565, he wrote: Columbus being at a party with many noble Spaniards, where, as was customary, the subject of conversation was the Indies: one of them undertook to say: —”Mr. Christopher, even if you had not found the I...

A New World – August 3, 1492 AD

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue….” The poem is correct in that the first voyage of Christopher Columbus began on the evening of August 3, 1492. However, it was a bit of work for Columbus to get that expedition underway. The goal was to find a quicker way to the Orient via the Atlantic Ocean, instead of using the land trade routes that were becoming increasingly treacherous because of the Ottoman Turks and the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In 1470, Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, an astronomer from Florence, proposed to King Alfonso of Portugal that sailing west to the Spice Islands would be faster than around Africa. The king rejected the idea and his successor, John II, tasked Bartolomeu Dias to explore the Africa route, going around the Cape of Good Hope. While Dias was work...

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