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Best of Blue Dot: Here Begins The Dark Sea: a conversation with author Meredith F. Small on the Fra Mauro map

The Fra Mauro World map created c. 1450.
Museo Correr, Venice4
The Fra Mauro World map created c. 1450.

Host Dave Schlom visits with best-selling author and award-winning anthropologist Meredith F. Small to talk about her new book, Here Begins The Dark Sea: Venice, a Medieval Monk and the Creation of the Most Accurate Map of The World. 

The Fra Mauro map, created by a team led by the lay monk Fra Mauro from 1450-1459 in Venice, is a masterpiece of art, cartography, and culture and arguably the first scientific map of the planet.

It's astonishing in not just its accuracy for the time (NASA has even shown it next to orbital images to show it's amazing fidelity), but it's also a beautiful work of art and provides a glimpse into the state of geographic knowledge as the middle ages fully transitioned to the renaissance and the age of exploration.

There's even an interesting connection to the Apollo Program. The region on the moon where Apollo 13 was supposed to land, and Apollo 14 eventually did, is named Fra Mauro for the Venetian cartographer.

Dave Schlom is the longtime host and creator of Blue Dot. From surfing to Voyager in interstellar space, rock guitar to orcas in our imperiled oceans, the topics on Blue Dot are as varied as the host’s interests and connections -- which are pretty limitless! An internationally respected space history journalist, Dave is also deeply fascinated by all aspects of the grand workings of nature’s awesome machinery on scales ranging from galactic to subatomic. And topics take in all aspects of the arts and sciences.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.