Things That Matter

The Nazca Lines Have Captivated Scientists For Centuries And Now They’ve Just Discovered Hundreds More

People love conspiracy theories, particularly if they involve ancient civilizations and aliens, right? The recent craze over the Area 51 flash mob highlighted that talks about life in outer space are still relevant in popular culture, even after the craze of the 1990s culture which included TV shows like The X-Files, which had a revival just five years ago. Well, a recent archeological discovery in Peru promises to reignite conspiracy theories that point to what many believe is clear evidence that indigenous civilizations in the region has some sort of contact with extraterrestrial beings. But beyond suppositions, the recent discovery in Peru has huge scientific and cultural value, and they are evidence of the complexity of the knowledge produced by 

So what are Nazca lines anyway?

Credit: Atlas Obscura

Located in the Nazca desert in southern Peru, these amazing designs are geoglyphs that depict animals, unknown symbols and humanoid forms. But what is a geoglyph? Simply put, a drawing made on a natural mineral surface such as sand and rock. The drawings are sometimes several feet long and they are best seen from the sky, which has of course puzzled scientists and fed conspiracy theorists. Some experts believe they might have been used to map the territory and provide guidance to travellers who might have seen them from far away mountains.  The Nazca lines cover an area of about 1,000 square kilometers and up to 300 figures have been found. Until now… 

So over 140 new Nazca lines have been recently discovered! And it is a BFD! 

Credit: Newsweek

The discovery was made by scientists in the Yamagata University in Japan (it is important to note that there are strong historical ties between the Asian and Latin American countries). As The Independent reports, the findings are a result of a mixed methodology that involved both human and machine intelligence, and money from industry: “The research team used a combination of on-the-ground fieldwork and data analysis to identify these newest carvings, or geoglyphs. Working in partnership with IBM Thomas J Watson Research Centre, the team was able to use artificial intelligence to scan aerial images and for what they called “biomorphic” shapes, or shapes that look similar to plants, animals, or humans.”

Some of the newly discovered lines have a humanoid form, which also echoes the beliefs of those who believe that “the truth is out there.”

As The Independent reported, theories relating the lines with alien spaceships are around since the late 1960s: “A 1968 book, Chariot of the Gods, hypothesised that the geoglyphs were constructed by ancient peoples as landing strips for alien visitors.”

This is how The Smithsonian Magazine described this humanoid figure: “The etching almost resembles a contemporary cartoon character or mascot. Its subject stands on two legs, wears a hat of sorts represented by three lines rising above its vaguely television-shaped head, and wields a club or stick in its right hand”. 

The researchers also found pottery near the newly discovered lines.

Key to evaluating the archeological significance of the lines is finding evidence of human settlement or camps in the area. The researchers did field work and found shards of pottery buried in the sand. This is significant as it can help date the lines by making the assumption that the pottery was left there roughly at the same time as the lines were drawn. According to researchers, the lines are about 2,000 years old. Think about it: the Roman Empire was still a thing when indigenous civilizations in what is not the Americas drew these enigmatic figures. 

As technology advances, these kinds of discoveries will be more common: Artificial Intelligence rules.

Akihisa Sakurai, a researcher with IBM Japan, told The Verge: “We specifically built techniques in the deep learning framework to learn and distinguish between these different patterns and sizes of the geoglyphs”. There are still vast areas in Peru’s southern desert that need to be studied, but through computers scientists can run algorithms that identify 

The research will continue! 

Key in finding these giant drawings of animals, plants and humanoids is bringing together data from different sources. In the next few months, and even years, the researchers will overlap images from drones and satellites with geographical survey data to potentially find new drawings. The biggest challenge, however, is to keep the lines intact. In the past few years they have suffered all sorts of misadventures: a truck veered off the highway and left tyre marks on them, rainfall is eroding the land, pig growers have left their animals loose in the area and illegal mining and agriculture is also damaging the site, which UNESCO has names a World Heritage site and which, as such, should be preserved for posterity.

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After 17 Seasons “Grey’s Anatomy” Has Finally Cast Its First Indigenous Doctor

Entertainment

After 17 Seasons “Grey’s Anatomy” Has Finally Cast Its First Indigenous Doctor

Courtesy of ABC

Just when you thought “Grey’s Anatomy” had literally done every storyline in the book, they turn around and surprise you. And this time, “Grey”‘s is bringing some good news.

Now, in 2021, after 17 seasons, “Grey’s Anatomy” is finally featuring its first indigenous doctor, Dr. James Chee, played by actor Robert I Mesa.

Robert I Mesa is an actor of Navajo and Soboba descent. According to an online biography, Mesa is self-taught photographer, filmmaker and actor working in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Mesa took to Instagram to celebrate the good news about being the first indigenous doctor on “Grey’s”.

“I’m so excited and honored to be the first indigenous doctor on Grey’s Anatomy,” he wrote. “James Chee will be back on April 15, so be sure to tune in…Thank you so much To Grey’s Anatomy! I know this is going to mean so much to my indigenous peoples.” He ended the caption with “it’s a good day to be indigenous”

Although now Mesa is now on one of the biggest shows on TV, he is still a relative newcomer to showbiz and “Grey’s” will be his first major role after appearing on episode three of this season.

“Grey’s Anatomy” has always prided itself in hiring diverse actors to fill its cast.

In fact, when “Grey’s” creator Shonda Rhimes first created the show in 20–, she instructed her casting director to bring in actors of all races to audition. “The script was written with no character descriptions, no clue as to what anyone should look like,” she told Oprah in 2006.

“We read every color actor for every single part. My goal was simply to cast the best actors. I was lucky because the network said, ‘Go for it.'”

Those directions led to one of the most culturally and racially diverse casts in TV history. And it also changed the television landscape forever.

“When they had me come in to read for the role of chief of surgery, I hadn’t seen an African American in that kind of role before,” James Pickens Jr, who plays Dr. Richard Webber, said to The Hollywood Reporter.

He continued: “Shonda always wanted to make sure that the show impacted the landscape in a way that we hadn’t seen before on TV. I like to think that Grey’s had a big part in how the industry casts shows.”

“Grey’s Anatomy” has paved the way for other racially-diverse Shondaland shows like “How to Get Away With Murder”, “Scandal”, “Station 19”, and most recently, “Bridgerton.”

We’re glad that an iconic television staple like “Grey’s Anatomy” is finally expanding its diverse cast to include its first indigenous doctor.

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Peruvian Woman Wins Battle Over Right To Die Request

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Peruvian Woman Wins Battle Over Right To Die Request

No doubt about it, women have struggled more than anyone to convince the world that the right to make decisions about their bodies is theirs. Ana Estrada, a woman currently confined to her bed, knows this truth. After spending five years of attempting to convince Peruvian officials that she has what’s best for herself in mind, she has finally made a breakthrough.

Recently, Estrada was able to convince Peruvian officials to make a historic decision, regarding her own assisted death.

Euthanasia is largely illegal in the Roman Catholic country of Peru, but Estrada has been granted an exception.

Psychologist Ana Estrada, who has suffered from incurable and progressive polio since the age of 12, poses for pictures at her house in Lima, on February 15, 2020. – A Peruvian court on February 25, 2021 ordered the government to respect the wishes of Estrada to be allowed to die, a rare allowance for euthanasia in largely Catholic Latin America. (Photo by Angela PONCE / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA PONCE/AFP via Getty Images)

Euthanasia is a practice that is illegal in many countries across the globe including Peru where access to abortion and same-sex marriage are also banned. Still, Estrada made a decision for herself to commit to a five-year legal battle after she decided to end her own life “when the time comes.”

Recently, Peru’s government ruled not to appeal a court ruling which recognized her right to “a dignified death.”

“It is an individual case, but I hope it serves as a precedent,” Estrada, 44, explained to Reuters in a recent interview. “I think it is an achievement not only of mine, not only of my cause but also an achievement of law and justice in Peru.”

Estrada, who is a psychologist, has lived with the rare disease called polymyositis for three decades.

The painful disease progressively attacks her muscles and has resulted in her need to breathe with a respirator most of the time. According to NBC, a court ruling from last week granted that state health insurer EsSalud to provide “all conditions” needed for Estrada’s euthanasia. The court also ruled that the event must occur within 10 business days of the date that she decides to end her life. According to NBC, “EsSalud said a statement it would comply with the ruling and form medical commissions to develop a protocol for such cases. The court ruling also cleared anyone assisting Estrada in her death from facing charges, although local law still prohibits anyone from helping people to die.”

Estrada is the author of the blog “Ana seeks dignified death” which she began writing in 2016. In an interview with Reuters, she explained that she made the decision to end her life when she realized she was no longer able to write.

“My body is failing, but my mind and my spirit are happy,” she explained. “I want the last moment of my life to continue like this, in freedom, with peace, tranquility, and autonomy. I want to be remembered like that.”

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