Thursday, December 2

Cosmic rays rediscover America

Cosmic rays rediscover America

An international team of scientists led by researchers from the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, has found that the Vikings lived in America around the year 1021, specifically in Newfoundland, Canada. An intense shower of cosmic rays that occurred in 993 left radioactive carbon footprints in the trees in the area, allowing specialists to set a precise date.

Thus, Europeans would have reached America long before Christopher Columbus, who made landfall with his crew on Friday, October 12, 1492 on an island in the Bahamas called Guanahani, in Central America. The discovery modifies the historical moment in which the Atlantic was crossed and the migration of humanity finally encircled the entire planet.

The footprints of the cosmos

The radioactive isotopes They present an unstable atomic nucleus, due to the balance between neutrons and protons, emitting energy and particles when they change in this way to a more stable one. When a rain of cosmics rayscosmics rays, which are subatomic particles from outer space, the activity of radioactive isotopes increases, leaving indelible marks on Earth.

As the amount of radioactive carbon-14 increases in the environment during these events, part of that carbon is absorbed by trees. If scientists analyze these signals in the tree rings, they can determine the exact date of cosmic events.

The time of the trees

According to a Press release, the use of these techniques allowed to determine that in 993 a cosmic ray shower occurred, but this phenomenon made possible an even more shocking discovery: in L’Anse aux Meadows, Canada, wood samples were analyzed showing evidence of Viking archaeological and cultural traces, produced exactly in 1021 AD

The pieces of wood studied in the area of ​​the ancient Viking settlement show cuts and slices made with metal blades, a material not produced by the American peoples who inhabited the region at that time. Researchers believe that Vikings, Germanic warriors from much of today’s Nordic countries, established settlements in Iceland, Greenland, and eventually Canada.

In a new study recently published in the journal Nature, scientists note that radiocarbon production that occurred between 992 and 993 AD. C. it has been detected in tree ring archives around the world. Each of the three wood samples collected at L’Anse aux Meadows exhibited this signal: based on the number of growth rings (equivalent to years) before the edge of the bark, specifically 28, the specialists were able to conclude that the cutting activity in the Canadian wood made by the Vikings took place in the year 1021.

Related topic: The first humans inhabited America 22,500 years ago, before the Last Glacial Maximum.

A new conception

Different theories and legends have long supported the Viking presence in North America prior to the arrival of the Spanish, although it is believed that the visit was short: the fleeting passage of the Vikings would explain why there is little archaeological evidence of its impact in the area.

Beyond this, the discovery confirms that the European presence in America would be prior to the arrival of the first expedition of Christopher Columbus in 1492, at the command of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel de Castilla and Fernando de Aragón. The new date changes at the same time the moment in which the contact between European and American civilizations, from which a cultural exchange has been generated that modified humanity forever.


Evidence for European presence in the Americas in AD 1021. Kuitems, M., Wallace, B.L., Lindsay, C. et al. Nature (2021).DOI:

Photo: reconstruction of L’Anse aux Meadows in Canada, the site where the existence of Vikings in North America was determined exactly 1,000 years ago. Credit: Kuitems, M. et al / University of Groningen.

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