Can you see order in chaos? Can you hear the signal in the noise?

Today 15 year old Canadian student, William Gadoury, hit the news for discovering an entire ancient Mayan City – by looking at the stars.

3 years ago, William got interested in Mayan cities when he learned about the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012. As he began learning he said “I didn’t understand why the Maya built their cities far away from rivers, in remote areas, or in the mountain.”

So he began studying the patterns of the cities, and then studied the patterns of 22 Mayan star constellations. He saw the links, and when he superimposed the constellations on a map of the Yucatan Peninsula on Google Earth, they linked perfectly with 117 ancient Mayan cities.

He also found the brightest stars linked to the largest cities.

Despite being only 15 years old, William is the first person to make the correlation.

William then looked at a 23rd constellation of three stars, and found only two cities. So he guessed there must be a city in the third spot.

What do you do if you think you’ve found a city? He contacted the Canadian Space Agency, who then got satellites from NASA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency.

Scientists were blown away when they found evidence of a previously un-discovered large, 86m high pyramid and thirty buildings exactly where William predicted.

Not only was it a new city, based on its size some experts predict that it could be one of the five largest.

As Canadian Space Agency’s Daniel de Lisle says, “Linking the positions of the stars to the location of a lost city along with the use of satellite images on a tiny territory to identify the remains buried under dense vegetation is quite exceptional.”

William’s discovery is now being published in a scientific journal and he will present his findings at Brazil’s International Science Fair next year.

Also, Mexican archaeologists have promised William he can join their expedition to the area to verify the find. William says “It would be the culmination of three years of work and the dream of a lifetime.”

If 15 year old William can discover an entire city, what could you find by looking more closely?

When I met Richard Branson on Necker Island last year, a friend asked him “Do you analyse data or use your gut when making decisions.” Richard replied, “It’s not really one or the other. I see patterns. If things fit, I do it.”

Science, exploration, art, music, sport – and entrepreneurship – all share a common theme: Patterns.

When, like William, you see the patterns, you can fill in the gap – Whether it’s your next step, a new innovation, or a new, ancient city.

“Learn how to see. Realize that everything is connected to everything else.” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

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