Two early pamphlets on the French Pox

Joseph Grünpeck had long aspired to a better career than teaching Latin to students in Augsburg. So in 1496 he seized an opportunity to advertise his skills to the Bürgermeister of Augsburg and, more aspirationally, to Emperor Maximilian I who passed through Augsburg in the fall of that year. At the core of Grünpeck’s efforts […]


Eratosthenes and Second Graders

One recent sunny afternoon, I took a bunch of exercise balls with little sticks taped to them to the local grammar school where I met a class of second graders. As part of my war on the flat earth myth, I had encouraged their teacher to read Kathryn Lasky’s The Librarian Who Measured the Earth […]

Press and Pop Culture

Washington Irving’s Columbus and the Flat Earth

For generations now American school children have learned that Christopher Columbus proved the earth was round. They have learned that the Church tried to prevent Columbus from sailing west to Asia, fearing that he and his seamen would sail off the edge of the earth or plunge into a chasm. They know that Columbus persevered […]