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Muons Helping Archaeologists

Updated on November 16, 2017
Rayan Milkton profile image

Rayan Milkton, is an Architect(Software), whose hobbies include creative writing.

A better understanding of the internal structure of the pyramid and other geological structures could be done by extraterrestrial rays — a form of high energy radiation that originate from outside our solar system. Cosmic rays when they hit the upper atmosphere generate particles including muons — subatomic particles — and these can pass undetected through bodies, homes or rocks easily. By closely tracking dispersed muons while simultaneously appraising the momentum, caverns within the pyramid can be detected easily, and this can help archaeologists, by killing the need to excavate.

A muon is an elementary particle like an electron but having a charge equal to minus one and having a mass greater than an electron. Muon is an unstable subatomic particle with a mean lifetime of 2.2 microsecond, and is classified as a lepton. Muons are more penetrating than x-rays or gamma rays, because of their huge mass and they do not lose much energy as the pass through any material. Muons are deflected by heavy elements like uranium or plutonium. By studying their trajectories, it is easy to spot them. This idiosyncrasy can very useful, for far reaching applications — even shielded nuclear waste can be detected. Muons could also be used for predicting volcanic eruptions, by inspecting volcano’s magma chambers.

A muon detector basically contains a plastic scintillator along with a silicon photomultiplier. If a charged particle, namely a muon, is passed through a plastic scintillator it would emit light, that could be collected by a photomultiplier, the registered light could be used to find the location and trajectory of the charged particle.

Cosmic muon radiography or tomography is a technique to find the internal density of very large structures, especially geographical targets. Essentially it generates three dimensional images. Muons travel at different rates through the rocks, based on their thickness. Muons are deflected by the electrons in the rocks. By looking at the scattered muons that arrive at different locations and the trajectory they take, caves can be easily discovered, using muon radiography.

Several muon detectors can be used to confirm the presence of a grotto, inside a pyramid. This is perfect for locations where celestial rays do not damage the structure of these historical places. It would take additional drilling and cameras to confirm the presence of a cavity.

© 2017 Rayan Milkton

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