Structural engineer, James O'Kon, in addition to designing award-winning projects in major cities, has also spent 40 years investigating Maya engineering feats and lost Maya technology. He discussed damage from Hurricane Sandy, as well as how many important discoveries in Mayan ruins have been overlooked by archeologists. Regarding the damage from Sandy, developers have typically ignored suggestions not to build where the water level is too low. Now, they need to put in sea walls or structures, as well as build the sand dunes back up to protect the vulnerable areas, he said.
The Maya civilization was one of the longest in history, and they developed complex sciences including astronomy, and mathematics, as well as their own written language. O'Kon is particularly impressed by their "quadripartite cosmic philosophy," dividing the cosmos into four vertical elements, which they set into motion with time. This kind of approach is similar to today's space-time continuum model, he marveled. "They absolutely used this to determine all their future and past events, and this mindset...kick-started their technology, and agronomy," he continued, adding that 60% of the food in the world today, such as corn, originally came from the Maya.
The tools the Maya used have not been widely recognized by archeologists, O'Kon declared. According to his research, they fabricated tools from a type of jade that is harder than iron, tougher than steel, and facilitated drilling and chiseling precise sculptures and structures. Their infrastructure was also quite sophisticated, with paved and elevated roads (which could withstand floods) running hundreds of miles, and used for trade, he noted. O'Kon also talked about a recent discovery in Guatemala in what may have been a studio for Mayan astronomers. The uncovered calculations and murals indicated a Mayan calendar with 17 "baktun" cycles which would run an additional 1,124 years after the end date of December 21, 2012 in the calendar with 13 baktuns. For more on this, see O'Kon's blog posting, and an article from National Geographic.
Audio Surveillance in Baltimore
First hour guest, privacy advocate Katherine Albrecht reported on audio surveillance on the Baltimore bus system, and related issues. The audio recording capability, which is being added on to the video system already in place, represents an invasion of people's privacy, and such surveillance has not been found to reduce crime, she suggested. The ACLU may wage a lawsuit against the Maryland Transit Administration over the use of microphones, arguing that bus riders don't have a choice in allowing their conversations to be recorded.