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A Lost Maya City

18 May 2016

This story is fascinating as it has a boy wonder with an amazing theory and some older critics that got hold of the wrong end of the stick and made a fool of themselves – see for example www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/05/11/did-a-teen…

William Gadoury, a 15 year old lad from Quebec, is reported to have theorised the Maya people might have sited their cities in specific locations in order to line up with major constellations. In his research he found that one of the major constellations seemed to be missing a settlement (town or city) and he persuaded the Canadian Space Agency to turn a satellite over to that remote area and subsequently it spotted what seemed like a man made structure. As yet this is not a formal peer reviewed study of the stars and cities and the hypothesis may in the end not be viable. What seems to have happened is that because a 15 year old was involved the story went viral on online media, and the story became somewhat garbled. The facts of the matter became jumbled up by being repeated on social media. However, this did not stop leading academics wading in and criticsing the hypothesis, taking the social media hype at face value. In a calmer atmosphere they would may be have waited for publication before making their views known publicly – although this process of polite criticism seems rarely practised in the real world. The nub of the story is that certain academics have ended up with egg on their faces – and by the sound of it well deserved too.

At www.examiner.com/article/canadian-space-agency-defends-teen-s-lost-mayan… … which catalogues what really happened. It seems the media (using social media) had picked on the wrong photograph of the lost city as the rectangular structure was a cornfield in Belize. It seems the journalist, or his editor, chose what he thought looked like a building but got it completely wrong, the satellite image with the human activity was another one. Critics had worked themselves into a frenzy over nothing. They also said Gadoury had not himself actually claimed to have found a lost Maya city – this was something that was crowd hyped on social media. What he actually said was he had noticed 'an area of interest' (indicating human activity). What Gadoury did was plot the location of temples and pyramids and then overlaid them with a constellation map and it was only then he realised there seemed to be a link. Cities with temples and pyramids seemed to correspond with bright stars in given constellations (the Mayan constellation may have differed but not the brightness of the stars involved). For example, he could show a star connecting 5 cities in Yucatan to form the W shape of Cassiopeia.

At www.examiner.com/article/geologist-defends-teen-s-discovery-of-mayan-los… … which is another similar piece. All very amusing and displaying human nature at its best and at its worst.

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