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Mayan Muons and Unmapped Rooms
August 21, 2008 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Ghost Particles & Pyramids: How physicists and archaeologists “see” inside ancient monuments.
posted by homunculus (11 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Recent post on the Mayans.
posted by homunculus at 12:40 PM on August 21, 2008


Oh wow. This is so cool. It combines all sorts of things I love but just *barely* understand (and also, particle physics which I don't understand at all, but I think it's awesome!).

Excuse me. I need to go put on some clean pants.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:56 PM on August 21, 2008


Also see Jean-Pierre Houdin's Khufu internal ramp theory that was in the news last year. Apparently a 1986 microgravimetry technique lent anecdotal evidence and further study proposals are in the works to Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. I wonder how that's going.
posted by anthill at 1:15 PM on August 21, 2008


BLDBLOG meet Google Reader. Google Reader meet BLDBLOG.

(Awesome.)
posted by griphus at 1:24 PM on August 21, 2008


Insane.
posted by GuyZero at 1:30 PM on August 21, 2008


Really cool stuff. I hope I can remember to check on this in six months to see what they find.
posted by Tullius at 2:16 PM on August 21, 2008


I just wanted to pull this paragraph out for display. Visualizing what it desribes gave me goosbumps:
Cosmic rays—mostly made up of protons accelerated to near light speed by exploding stars, or supernovae—collide with the atoms of our atmosphere and break apart into a cascade of rapidly decaying particles. By the time the rays reach earth’s surface, they are primarily composed of muons, which are much like heavy electrons and barely interact with the nuclei of other atoms. They’re ghost particles that zip through matter. Muons can survive up to 2.2 microseconds, which makes them the Methuselahs of the cosmic particle parade, and they live long enough to pass through hundreds of miles of atmosphere and into the earth. “We’re bathed, all of us, in a sea of muons,” Schwitters says. As they pass through matter, including us, they knock electrons off other atoms, losing a little energy and leaving a charged trail, like the vapor behind a high-flying jet. The denser the material muons travel through, the more energy they lose, until they eventually just fade away.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:13 PM on August 21, 2008


Terrific.
posted by davejay at 5:20 PM on August 21, 2008


We're bathed, all of us, in a sea of muons.

Wait! There's one now! Wow. Bigger than I expected, really.
posted by steef at 5:53 PM on August 21, 2008


That's no muon.
posted by homunculus at 6:08 PM on August 21, 2008


My old roommate worked on the muon project and would bitch about scenarios where the government could potentially use the detector to scan for underground tunnels (drugs?, immigrants?) and other unsavory privacy violations.
posted by bodywithoutorgans at 8:57 PM on August 21, 2008


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