With modern technological advances impacting virtually every aspect of our lives these days, it’s easy to take many of them for granted. Consider, for example, the realm of geography and navigation. As every middle-aged sailor will recall, sailing offshore in the days before GPS (‘BGPS’) was a lot more dicey than it is today. If you practiced good seamanship, you always had a pretty good idea of where you were, but out in the middle of the ocean, beyond the reach of radio direction finders, navigation was a guestimate at best, especially during stints of bad weather. By comparison, of course, this is a splendid time to sail and navigate, whether you’re voyaging around the world, or simply trying to make your way through a Central Bay fog bank.
The same can be said for ‘armchair navigation’. Here at Latitude 38 World Headquarters, we’re so addicted to using Google Earth for confirming locations and measuring distances, that it’s hard to remember life without it (‘BGE’). And it’s amazing to think how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time. Although Aristotle devised arguments that the Earth was round about 350 B.C., it wasn’t until 1,800 years later, when Columbus ‘discovered’ the New World — or the New World discovered Columbus, as some like to say — that the theories of Aristotle and other round earth proponents were universally accepted. Imagine how hard it was to find offshore crew back in the days when folks thought there was an aburpt edge to fall off at the end of every ocean!
Probably the best known of the ancient geographers was Claudius Ptolemy (A.D. 90-168), a Greek who lived during the Roman era. Although he made some substantial errors on his famous maps, it’s mind-boggling to think that his were the only maps available to European explorers 14 centuries later! All things considered, we’d much prefer to be living in the age of Google Earth. Now, please excuse us while we get back to navigating the canals of Chilean Patagonia.