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article imageOp-Ed: Canadian student who found lost city of Mayas deserves respect

By Karen Graham     May 11, 2016 in Science
It didn't take long for the "experts" to shoot down the story of the young Quebec teenager who possibly had found a lost Mayan structure in the middle of nowhere in Central America. But the story is much bigger than debunking a theory, isn't it?
The headlines were tantalizing, even to this writer. Wasn't it neat that a 15-year-old student might have discovered a lost Mayan city using star charts and satellite imaging? Really, how cool is that?
The true part of this story is that a few years ago, William Gadoury, a student at Académie Antoine-Manseau in Joliette, won a contest to present his theory that Mayan cities were correlated with constellations. The young man turned to the stars, because after all, many ancient civilizations, like the Egyptians, Aztecs and others, used their knowledge of the movements of the planets and the constellations in their building projects.
The Mayan world
The Mayan world
Star Lab Curriculum
Actually, Mayan cities all show signs of astronomical orientation in the construction of buildings. This proves to us that the Mayans had a very intense relationship with the sky and the celestial events that took place on a recurring basis. So Gadoury was on the right track in looking for astronomical alignment in satellite images.
Gadoury told CBC News Canada, "The Mayans were extremely good builders, but they often built in places that made little practical sense — far from rivers, far from fertile areas. It seemed strange for a civilization that was so intelligent. I knew they were good at astronomy, so I tried to make the link."
A satellite image (left) added weight to William Gadoury s theory that he developed using Google Ear...
A satellite image (left) added weight to William Gadoury's theory that he developed using Google Earth images (right) that he had found the platforms of lost Mayan pyramids.
William Gadoury/CSA/Google
The budding archaeologist overlaid a map of the known Mayan constellations on a map of already discovered Mayan cities and found he had a near-perfect match, with the exception of one constellation, which didn't have a matching city. That area is where he theorized the city might be found. There is nothing wrong with Gadoury's deduction, and it is reasonable to assume he was probably right.
Wired says that Gadoury's enthusiasm and intense interest in his subject is what compelled the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to turn their RADARSAT-2 satellite on a remote corner of Mexico from its usual tracking of sea ice and shipping in Canada. And based on Gadoury's theory of a missing Mayan city, there appeared to be an anomaly in the images sent back to Earth.
Every step and angle of the Temple of Kukulkan has scientific or spiritual meaning.
Every step and angle of the Temple of Kukulkan has scientific or spiritual meaning.
CSA project officer Daniel Delisle told CBC News Canada, "This is something we usually do with scientists that submit proposals to us, but since William's proposal was so extraordinary, we decided to support him as we do regular scientists." And kudos to the CSA for supporting the young man's research.
So now we are back to the present, and the excitement of announcing to the world what Gadoury thought he had found. The headlines were exciting, and when people read the stories, they should have realized that this is something scientists and archaeologists do all the time. They present a finding, saying something like, "this is possibly, or might be" something that is new. Of course, the find does require further study and investigation to either prove or disprove the discovery.
But I take offense at the number of experts who have scoffed at, debunked and otherwise made a joke out of the young man's hypothesis. They have forgotten that they were young once, and they have forgotten what the absolute thrill of discovery feels like. Gadoury, regardless of if his discovery proves to pan out or not, should be encouraged, mentored and allowed to bask in the glory of the moment.
Of course, further study will be required. But if only someone would take Gadoury under their wing, it would mean a lot, not just to young William, but to the idea of keeping the excitement and thrill of discovery alive in all our young people today. I respect William Gadoury, for his enthusiasm and unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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