No doubt, many of us have heard of the online comic strip consisting solely of stick figures by now: xkcd. I haven't seen too much of it, but what I have seen of it is hilarious (a few cartoons of it appear to be taped to the door of one of my chemistry teachers' office).
I especially appreciate this one from today:
Yay! Bonus points for The Silmarillion references, and for addressing the myth that everyone else in the time of Christopher Columbus believed the world was round. They did not. This is a myth perpetuated by people who want you to believe that the Catholic Church was stupid, superstitious, and uneducated, whereas clever Columbus was smarter than all those bishops and priests and knew his science.
In fact, we can blame Washington Irving for most of this Columbus-proved-the-world-was-round business. Since he's best known for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, that should tell you about as much as you need to know about his reputation for historical accuracy. (I think he was also the one responsible for The Knickerbocker Tales, or whatever that book was called. Which also purported to be historical... with a decidedly fictional twist.)
Scholars knew the world was round by the time of St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas (i.e., 13th century). In fact, Christopher Columbus was questioned by some scholarly clergy who worried that he had vastly underestimated the size of the Earth and that he would run out of supplies before he ever reached the Orient. Indeed, he had vastly underestimated the size of the Earth, and if the Americas had not been in his way he would have been doomed.
That being said, it would have made for an awesome plot twist if he had ended up in Valinor. Granted, he would not have been allowed to set foot on the shores of the Blessed Realm after that little fiasco with Ar-Pharazon, who tried to invade it, had rocks fall on his head, and is now sealed in a cave until the end of time. But it would still have been cool.
Granted, we wouldn't have heard from him ever again or would not have believed him, so it wouldn't have done any good. But still... nerds can dream on, can't we? XD
In Pace Christi,