Five centuries since the journey that changed the world

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This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese explorer Fernando Magellan sailing around the Earth for the first time and thus changing the world, becoming a role model for future researchers.

Magellan sailed from Spain in September 1519 to find his western route to the island of Indonesia. In the second year of that adventure, he was killed by islanders from the Philippines, so the three-year journey was completed by the Spaniard Juan Sebastian Elcano. But today, Magellan’s name is still associated with this revolutionary achievement.

“Magellan is an inspiration even after 500 years,” said Fabian Cousteau, a French director and underwater researcher, the grandson of the famous Jacques Yves Cousteau, reports the Hina agency.

“He was a pioneer at a time when researchers who would venture into the unknown did not return,” he added.

On the occasion of the anniversary of that endeavor, a conference was held in Lisbon, at which five ways were singled out in which Magellan’s journey marked human history and continues to inspire today’s scientists and researchers.

Rounded planet

Magellan’s path represents a historical turning point, just as it was later the first human departures into space or walking on the moon, said NASA scientist Alan Stern, the leader of the interplanetary spacecraft New Horizons.

“When the first person made a circle around the planet, it also meant in a way that we hugged her with our arms for the first time,” he said.

“I think it simply transformed humanity. I would call it the first planetary event, in the same way that Yuri Gagarin’s flight was the first extraterrestrial event, “the American added.

New geography

Magellan’s journey changed maps and geographical books. He discovered the strait, today named after him, that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the bottom of South America.

“Perhaps one of his greatest exploits, still considered one of the greatest in the history of navigation, was to pass through that strait at a time when maps did not exist and its existence was only speculated about,” said American historian Lawrence Bergren, author of Magellan’s biography. .

World awareness

Magellan’s journey also transformed humanity’s perception of its place in the world.

“It wasn’t just geographically or anthropologically, it also showed something philosophical: that it’s all one world,” Bergren said.

“Before Magellan, people didn’t really know how the world was connected and how big it was.”

Magellan in space

Magellan also contributed to European knowledge of the universe and thus marked the world of astronomy to this day.

As he passed through the strait that bears his name today, this researcher and his crew observed two galaxies visible to the human eye from the southern hemisphere. And they now bear his name – the Magellanic Clouds.

Some recently named parts of the surface of Mars were given the same names that Magellan gave to parts of South America, and a huge telescope being built in Chile will be named after the Portuguese, Hina reports.


Magellan’s achievement is one of the most important in the history of research, so his successors still celebrate it today.

“In space programs, to prepare for long-term missions, we say that ‘lessons for the future are written in the past,’” said Defid Williams, a 65-year-old former NASA astronaut who has been on two space missions.

“Many in the space program read about Magellan,” Williams revealed.