Iceland vs. Greenland, and all that

Newton, adopting Occam’s razor, said “We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.”

Science Matters

Why is it that Greenland is mostly ice and Iceland is mostly green?

Many explanations have been offered, usually along the lines of deception: Iceland was so called to discourage others from emigrating, and OTOH Greenland was named to attract others to resettle from Iceland. It seems that after a Viking internal power struggle, the loser and his followers could be banished to leave on a ship to find another land, or die at sea. Thus did Leif Ericsson venture from Iceland to Greenland to found a colony, and later to reach Vinland in today’s Newfoundland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Leif Ericsson memorial in front of Reykjavik cathedral.

But it may not be deception at all. When you are off the southeastern coast of Iceland, where the Vikings probably approached, and the sun breaks through for a time, you may be treated to this sight:

Iceland Glacier Iceland Glacier August 5, 2015 sailing southeast of Iceland.

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