Archaeologists are using cosmic rays, or subatomic particles from space, to uncover a previously unknown void within the Great Pyramid of Giza. That’s right, they are imaging it with muons, which are basically high-energy byproducts of cosmic rays created when protons and other atomic nuclei strike the atmosphere. Since muons are approximately 207-times bigger than electrons, the negatively charged particles can travel through hundreds of meters of stone before being absorbed. Read more for a video and additional information.
So, similar to how medical practitioners use x-rays to look into bodies, physicists utilize muons to peer into thick structures, with the only requirement being a muon detector, like tile-sized special photographic films, underneath, within, or near an object. This detector then counts the number of muons coming through the thing in different directions.
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We plan to field a telescope system that has upwards of 100 times the sensitivity of the equipment that has recently been used at the Great Pyramid. Since the detectors that are proposed are very large, they cannot be placed inside the pyramid, therefore our approach is to put them outside and move them along the base. In this way, we can collect muons from all angles in order to build up the required data set,” said the research team.