On all of these points, of course, he was wrong, and should have been fatally so, except that he was also fantastically lucky. Facebook. "The Lost Mariner", about Jimmie G., who has anterograde amnesia (the loss of the ability to form new memories) due to Korsakoff's syndrome. He was now forty-nine, and, in addition to possible mental illness, was suffering from arthritis and vision problems. The series, produced by U.C.L.A. In his log he wrote: I gave some of them red caps and glass beads that they put around their necks and many other things of little value with which they were very pleased, and they remained so entirely ours that it was a wonder. . … Columbus reported that on one voyage, in 1477, he visited Iceland, which is plausible, and that he saw the tides there rise and fall fifty feet, which is not. (This manuscript was "found" four centuries later, in a wonderfully clumsy fraud.) In his later years, he assembled a book of Biblical passages showing that his discoveries were a prelude to the Day of Judgment, and took to signing his name with an elaborate Christological cryptogram. In this classic collection of "clinical tales," neurologist Oliver Sacks explores a range of neurological conditions and phenomena. Several times, Columbus almost didn’t make it back. The following year, Columbus travelled to Spain, apparently leaving behind a string of unpaid debts. Columbus rejected Ptolemy in favor of Pierre d’Ailly, an early-fifteenth-century French astrologer, who maintained that land extended for two hundred and twenty-five degrees, water for only a hundred and thirty-five. Had he reached the very tip of the protuberance, he concluded, he would have sailed straight into the Terrestrial Paradise. He found this theory so compelling that two months later he sent news of it in a long letter to his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. When he read in Marco Polo that the palace of the Japanese king had floors of gold "two fingers thick," he accepted it as fact. Columbus’s administration of Hispaniola was recognized, even by his patrons, to be a disaster. You will find this … Columbus was one of history's great optimists. It has been estimated that between mistreatment, imported diseases, and outright slaughter, more than a third of the indigenous people of Hispaniola had been killed by 1496. Great quantities of fresh water were flowing into the ocean; the climate seemed unusually temperate for a region so close to the equator; and the North Star was wandering from its course. This was a gross overstatement: the real span of what Ptolemy meant by the “known world”—Eurasia and Africa—was only about a hundred and twenty degrees. In the former, he deliberately understated the distances travelled, so that the men wouldn’t become nervous about sailing so far from home. The series goes a long way toward explaining, if inadvertently, why the quincentenary turned into a fiasco. Cristoforo Colombo was probably born in 1451, and almost certainly in the city of Genoa. Probably the most famous "fact" about Columbus--his insistence, against overwhelming scholastic opposition, that the world was round--was the work of a fabulist, Washington Irving, who wrote the first modern biography of the explorer. To sail west across the Atlantic, a ship needs to find the easterly trade winds; to sail east it has to find the less consistent westerlies, and can easily end up becalmed. Not surprisingly, the figures he came up with this way were also often wrong. Referring to a Taino prisoner whose ears were chopped off during the Second Voyage, las Casas writes, “This was the first case of injustice perpetrated here in the Indies on the mistaken and vain assumption that what was being enacted was justice. Still, even Ptolemy’s calculations left far too much ocean to be traversed in an eighty-foot boat. By this point, he may or may not have been mad. Returning from his First Voyage, he ran into a storm so ferocious that he decided his best hope for posterity was to write up an account of his discoveries, seal it in a barrel, and toss the whole thing overboard.
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