In 2016, scientists utilizing muon imaging picked up alerts indicating a hidden hall behind the well-known chevron blocks on the north face of the Nice Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The next yr, the identical crew detected a mysterious void in one other space of the pyramid, believing it may very well be a hidden chamber. Two unbiased groups of researchers, utilizing two totally different muon imaging strategies, have now efficiently mapped out the hall for the primary time, based on a brand new paper printed within the journal Nature Communications. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former antiquities minister, referred to as it “an important discovery of the 21st century.”
As we have reported beforehand, there’s a lengthy historical past of utilizing muons to picture archaeological constructions, a course of made simpler as a result of cosmic rays present a gradual provide of those particles. An engineer named E.P. George used them to make measurements of an Australian tunnel within the 1950s. However Nobel-prize-winning physicist Luis Alvarez actually put muon imaging on the map when he teamed up with Egyptian archaeologists to make use of the approach to seek for hidden chambers within the Pyramid of Khafre at Giza. Though it labored in precept, they did not discover any hidden chambers.
There are various variations of muon imaging, however all of them sometimes contain gas-filled chambers. As muons zip by way of the fuel, they collide with the fuel particles and emit a telltale flash of sunshine, which is recorded by the detector so scientists can calculate the particle’s power and trajectory. It is much like X-ray imaging or ground-penetrating radar, besides with naturally occurring high-energy muons somewhat than X-rays or radio waves. That larger power makes it attainable to picture thick, dense substances just like the stones used to construct pyramids. The denser the imaged object, the extra muons are blocked, casting a telltale shadow. Hidden chambers in a pyramid would present up within the ultimate picture as a result of they blocked fewer particles.
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