About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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Brain Waves

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October 22, 2003

In 1622 California was an Island

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Posted by Zack Lynch

As explorers mapped our planet from 1500-2000, there was a period of several hundred years when the maps that detailed our geographic understanding of the Earth's landscape were wrong.

Take the case of California. Around the year 1500, California made its appearance as a fictional island. In 1622, California was confirmed to be an island. It stayed that way on most maps across all cultures for at least another 100 years. (Here is another map.)

The realization that California is not an island provides a glimpse of how our history has unfolded and our future will be shaped. Thanks Glen.

Comments (3) | Category: Economic Geography


1. Jay Cross on October 23, 2003 7:47 AM writes...

I'd lived in Arkansas, Texas, Rhode Island, New Jersey, France, Germany, Massachusetts, and other places before moving to California in 1974. Take it from me. California IS an island.

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2. Carl Zimmer on October 23, 2003 2:47 PM writes...

Your post reminds me of a conference talk I attended where a scientist described brain imaging of learning and memory. The neuroscientist ended his presentation with slide of an old map of the New World. I can't remember if it showed California as an island, but the coastlines were all deformed and the interior was blank. He said that brain mapping today is at the same stage.


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3. Zack Lynch on November 10, 2003 11:18 PM writes...

1) Before California was an island by mapmaker Johannes Matalius Metellus in 1598:

2) A beautiful De Wit that still shows California as an Island in 1688.

3) And another by Pierre Duval in 1661 that is for sale:

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