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Chicagophile
  > > e-Bulletin: 06/14/02


LETTERS
Flat-out wrong


I have found the Magazine to be well worth time invested in reading it because, unlike so many publications for alumni, it assumes an intelligent audience. I have learned much from it, all of which made even more disturbing a passing statement in a recent number ("Investigations: The discovery of discovery, or our debt to Copernicus," February/02).

The suggestion made that Columbus showed the Earth was not flat and so proved to Europeans that the Earth was round is, of course, an old myth which refuses to die. Virtually everyone in the Middle Ages knew the world was round. Astronomers and cosmographers took that as understood. The misconception was promoted by early 19th-century French scientists who wanted to denigrate religiosity, something associated with the Middle Ages, and to elevate the importance of their own work in what they saw as revolutionary times.

That such an error should find its way into the Magazine is disappointing. Leaving the impression that Howard Margolis might subscribe to such an error undermines the reputation of a faculty member. That I am sure was not the intention of the story.

Richard W. Unger, AM'65
Vancouver, British Columbia

"Of course Richard Unger is right," responds Professor Margolis. "Whether the world was round was not in dispute. The shock was the discovery of a continent on the back of the Earth. Columbus himself still believed he had reached Asia when he died in 1506." The Magazine regrets passing on the myth.-Ed.


 

 

 


  JUNE 2002

  > > Volume 94, Number 5


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The End of Consulting?
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Campus of the Big Ideas
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You Go Girl!


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