Pictographs of Peru

The Nazca Lines are mysterious geoglyphs that span a vast swath of the rugged Peruvian desert between the towns of Nazca and Palpa. Etched in the surface of the desert sand, the Nazca people created more than 1,000 figures of varying sizes, from a sundial 150 meters (500 feet) long to whales, foxes, and pelicans of 40 meters (130 feet) in length.

nazcalinesmapThey also etched human figures, apparently representing a family, each measuring 30 meters (100 feet) long, most are clearly visible from the air and remain an enigma.

Since their discovery, they have inspired fantastic explanations from ancient gods, a landing strip for returning aliens, and a celestial calendar created by the ancient Nazca civilization, suggesting the creation of the lines between 300 BC and 600 AD.

The lines have managed to remain intact for hundreds of years thanks to the region’s arid climate, which sees little rain or wind throughout the year. They cover an area of some 50 miles, and were designed by scraping away the copper coloured rocks of the desert floor to expose the lighter-coloured earth beneath. People are now banned from going there.

Some believe the Nazca Lines are sacred paths to walk for specific rites. Others believe that the Nazca Figures were inspired by, and intended to be seen by, the (so-called) Eye of God that is manifested during total solar eclipses. An extraordinary series of solar eclipses coincided with the construction of the Nazca lines.

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Erich von Däniken suggested, in his 1968 book, Chariots of the Gods, that the lines were built to attract ancient astronauts to a landing strip, as only from the air, is it possible to discern a design. The astronomer Carl Sagan claimed in response that if aliens used vastly superior spacecraft to ours, why would they need a runway? The Nazca Desert is one of the driest places on the planet. However, the lines were damaged due to people coming to see them after Däniken’s book was published.

“I don’t want to go to Peru.”
“How do you know? You’ve never been there.”
“I’ve never been to hell either and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go there.” – Richard Paul Evans, The Sunflower

Our Debt to Mme. Curie

Marie Skłodowska-Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity.

Marie-CurieShe was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris.

Her achievements included a theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium (which she named after her native Poland) and radium. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain major centres of medical research today. During World War I, she established the first military field radiological centres.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie

Curie died in 1934 at the sanatorium of Sancellemoz (Haute-Savoie), France, due to aplastic anemia brought on by exposure to radiation.

Interestingly, Marie Curie’s notebooks, from the 19th century are still too radioactive to be handled without protection. They will continue to be so, until at least the year 3511.