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Christopher Columbus might have remained a footnote in history, if Washington Irving, the author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” had not published a three volume biography about him. Although Irving established Columbus’ rightful place in history, he also told a few fibs, the biggest one being that Columbus wanted to prove the earth was round. Actually, all the scientists and cartographers in the fifteenth century believed the earth was round, the dispute was how big around the earth was. Columbus charted his way to the Indies partly using an ancient map of the world, drawn by a Greek astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy, from the second century. Although Ptolemy accounted for the world being round, he made the major mistake of leaving out a huge land mass that he did not know was there — North and South America.