A Mysterious Light Gleamed as Columbus Drew Near

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A doctoral student at Baruch College is studying the luminescent proteins of Bermuda fireworms, glowing green creatures that may have caught Christopher Columbus’s eye 520 years ago.

At 10 p.m. on Oct. 11, 1492, Christopher Columbus saw a glimmer in the distance as he stood on the deck of the Santa María. The faraway flash was “so small a body that he could not affirm it to be land,” Columbus wrote, referring to himself in the third person.

He called over two of his crew members, but the light was so faint that only one man could discern it. Staring harder, Columbus wrote, he “again perceived it once or twice, appearing like the light of a wax candle moving up and down, which some thought an indication of land.”...

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