'Holographic' Navigation?

Pt. 2
_The team of scientists, including Huth, armed themselves with instruments, computers, GPS, compasses, anemometers, and satellite data and flew to the Marshalls to find a connection between two seemingly dissimilar ways of seeing the world, indigenous and scientific, sensory and technological. For hundreds of years the outside world has been fascinated by how people inhabited the South Pacific, a twenty-five-million-square-mile area of ocean dotted with thousands of small islands. How did humans possibly find their way to these small pinpricks of land scattered across a vast and bewildering ocean three times the size of Europe? As early as 1522 the historian Maximilian Transylvanus wrote that the Pacific was “so vast that the human mind can scarcely grasp it.” When the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen stumbled across Rapa Nui, a tiny volcanic island on the southern end of Polynesia, on Easter Day in 1722, he decided that the only way people with such small canoes could be living there was if God had created them separately from the rest of humanity. Julien Crozet, a French explorer, hypothesized that there must have been an entire continent of similar language speakers that had sunk below the water, leaving only the atolls and islands of the South Pacific above water. For islanders in the South Pacific, Western explanations for their presence in Oceania were misguided and often insulting. In the 1940s, a New Zealand historian by the name of Charles Andrew Sharp claimed that humans couldn’t sail more than three hundred miles out of sight of land without instruments—the maximum range, he believed, before navigational errors would doom them. As a result, Sharp thought distant islands must have been settled by unintentional voyagers; sailors probably fleeing famine or conflict being blown by storms or simply straying off course. His book Ancient Voyages of the Pacific put forth the idea that Oceanic islanders must have stumbled onto their islands from Southeast Asia by chance, accident, or fortuitous providence rather than conscious decision-making and skill. Just a few years before Sharp published his book, the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl famously sought to prove a similar theory, though he believed that these accidental colonizers of the Pacific had arrived from South America. In 1947 he launched a raft with six others from Peru and spent 121 days riding it along the prevailing east to west winds before making landfall in the South Pacific. Recounted in his internationally bestselling book Kon Tiki, Heyerdahl’s ideas about the accidental peopling of Oceania became globally known—despite the fact that no South Pacific Islander agreed with him. As the anthropologist Ben Finney has written, “[S]tandard histories of cartography focused on physical map artifacts have largely ignored the way Oceanic navigators mentally charted the islands, stars, and swells.” Nāʻālehu Anthony, a Hawaiian navigator, put it more bluntly: “All these things they told us about drifting off course was a lie. This was intentional. We did it thousands and thousands of years before anyone would lose sight of land in Europe.”