Easter Island soil is apparently the source of a compound used by scientists to create a “wonder pill” which will extend lifespans by up to 23 years! A microbe living in the ground of this remote, historic Pacific island is responsible; without drowning you in science, suffice to say said microbe prevents damaging proteins from entering cells. The compound is called rapamycin, named after the island’s Polynesian name Rapa Nui.
Now for the commercial! Many UK operators can get you to Easter Island – but only our client The Traveller offers a devoted tour (ie without time in Chile). It’s guided by Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Director of the Easter Island Statue Project and certainly the world’s leading expert on Easter Island. She shares a strange parallel with pioneering Victorian explorer Katherine Routledge in that her project co-director, Cristian, is a direct descendant of Juan Tepano, Routledge’s own guide. Jo Anne is about to publish work detailing a new, official catalogue of the famous Moai statues on Rapa Nui, and will be then begin a new study into the statues’ future conservation. She also has her own theory on how Moai production was linked to the island’s spooky Birdman cult of yesteryear. Richard Mellor.