I was taught in grade school "Columbus discovered America", "Captain Cook discovered Hawaii" etc, and I imagine many of us were taught the same.
Obviously the term "discovered" here is problematic: The people living in the Americas and Hawaii knew they were there, and knew their homeland was there, so nothing was "discovered" for them - we might even say that the inhabitants of Hispaniola "discovered Europe" when Columbus arrived. We also know that others before Columbus had been to the Americas and probably returned, the Vikings being the most notable example. So who discovered what, and when?
I suppose the answer to this question is that from a Western/Euro-Centric point of view, those places were indeed "discovered" - i.e. the Western World became aware of those places for the first time - through the voyages of Columbus, Cook, etc., and could then "put them on the map."
My question is this: Obviously the voyages and explorations of Columbus, Cook, et al had huge historical impact - but is "discovery" in the "grade school sense" a valid term for the modern historian - one who is aware of, and examining history, in the modern global sense? Do historians still use this term? How might we otherwise describe Columbus's "discoveries"? What's the best, most accurate term for historians to use when describing "discoveries" like those of Columbus or Cook, in our modern, global context?