Did a Promising Technology Help Find a Lost City of Gold?

Conor Myhrvold writes about the application of remote sensing technology to the search for ancient South American cities reclaimed by time and nature.
June 13, 2012, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) remote sensing technology, a team of scientists from the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping, have found an ancient city in the jungles of Honduras that some believe may be the legendary lost city of Ciudad Blanca.

According to Myhrvold, the technology, which is commonly applied to mapping underwater topography, "works by bouncing a laser off the ground from an aircraft and recording how long it takes for the laser to return back. In post processing on a computer, the area's topography can be determined down to the tiniest details: in some cases, features several centimeters in size."

Before gold fever drives you to book your plane ticket to Honduras, know that claims to the finding of the mythical city are "pure speculation," notes Myhrvold, "the ruins cannot be dated and identified until archaeologists actually visit the site on the ground." Or is he just stalling until he can get that gold for himself???

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Published on Friday, June 8, 2012 in Technology Review
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