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Muons Meet the Maya
Science News ^ | Week of Dec. 8, 2007 | Betsy Mason

Posted on 12/09/2007 7:31:44 PM PST by neverdem

Physicists explore subatomic particle strategy for revealing archaeological secrets

At its most glamorous, the life of an experimental high-energy physicist consists of smashing obscure subatomic particles with futuristic-sounding names into each other to uncover truths about the universe—using science's biggest, most expensive toys in exciting locations such as Switzerland or Illinois. But it takes a decade or two to plan and build multibillion-dollar atom smashers. While waiting, what's a thrill-seeking physicist to do?

How about using some of the perfectly good, and completely free, subatomic particles that rain down on Earth from space every day to peek inside something really big and mysterious, like, say, a Mayan pyramid? That's exactly what physicist Roy Schwitters of the University of Texas at Austin is preparing to do.

High-energy particles known as muons, which are born of cosmic radiation, have ideal features for creating images of very large or dense objects. Muons easily handle situations that hinder other imaging techniques. Ground-penetrating radar, for instance, can reach only 30 meters below the surface under ideal conditions. And seismic reflection, another method, doesn't fare well in a complex medium. With muons, all you need is a way to capture them and analyze their trajectories.

Besides probing pyramids in Belize and Mexico, physicists are applying the muon method to studying active volcanoes and detecting nuclear materials. The concept sounds out of this world, but it's really quite simple. When cosmic rays hit the Earth's atmosphere, collisions with the nuclei of air atoms spawn subatomic particles called pions that quickly decay into muons that continue along the same path. Many of the muons survive long enough to penetrate the Earth's surface. Because of their high energy, the particles can easily pass through great volumes of rock or metal or whatever else they encounter. However, they are deflected...

(Excerpt) Read more at sciencenews.org ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: fromtheplanetkolab; godsgravesglyphs; maya; muons; physics; stargatesg1; subatomicparticles

SUBATOMIC ARCHAEOLOGY. Physicists plan to use muons generated by cosmic rays to probe the interior of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán.
iStockphoto
1 posted on 12/09/2007 7:31:45 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Teotihuacán has not been proved to be Mayan. It pre-dates the Mayan civilization.


2 posted on 12/09/2007 7:36:41 PM PST by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: neverdem

I think we could find a few military applications for this technology, dontcha think?


3 posted on 12/09/2007 7:48:00 PM PST by ari-freedom (Happy Chanuka! Itís just another ordinary miracle today.)
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To: neverdem; MotleyGirl70; Cagey; Mr. Brightside

I don’t mind the muouns.


4 posted on 12/09/2007 7:50:10 PM PST by Larry Lucido (Hunter 2008)
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To: neverdem

“With muons, all you need is a way to capture them and analyze their trajectories.”

It’s just that easy!


5 posted on 12/09/2007 7:51:56 PM PST by james500
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To: neverdem

“”It measures the track of every muon going through the vehicle,” Morris says. “In 20 seconds you can detect whether or not they have a chunk of metal that’s 4 inches by 4 inches by 4 inches. If you went a little longer, you can see something smaller.””

Or, I guess, one could detect a larger, submarine shaped chunk of metal at a further distance.


6 posted on 12/09/2007 8:14:59 PM PST by james500
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To: james500

It sounds stupid to talk about using this for mexican pyramids when we could be using this to see exactly what’s inside nuclear reactors in North Korea and Iran.

I mean... if I’m reading this correctly, this is the ultimate spy technology ever. But we’ll stick this story in the archeology section so that nobody will notice....


7 posted on 12/09/2007 8:24:27 PM PST by ari-freedom (Happy Chanuka! Itís just another ordinary miracle today.)
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To: james500

Buckaroo Bonzai


8 posted on 12/09/2007 8:24:47 PM PST by blackdog
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To: neverdem

Fascinating, thanks. Nice list of possible applications at the end of the article. What wasn’t listed, but came immediately to mind, was using muon detectors to find caves and tunnels inside mountains, such as those used by al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Seems like a perfect fit.


9 posted on 12/09/2007 8:25:40 PM PST by LibWhacker (Democrats are phony Americans)
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
Cancer and schizophrenia linked

Cutting Greenhouse Gases: Biofuels That Don't Involve Food Crops Or Microbial Fermentation

New Kind of Stem Cells Reverse Sickle Cell Anemia Here's another take.

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

10 posted on 12/09/2007 8:36:20 PM PST by neverdem (Call talk radio. We need a Constitutional Amendment for Congressional term limits. Let's Roll!)
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To: neverdem

The never ending quest for unobtainium ..........:o)


11 posted on 12/09/2007 8:44:21 PM PST by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet. ©)
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To: Squantos

I can’t figure how they knew I where I hid it.


12 posted on 12/09/2007 8:49:28 PM PST by razorback-bert (Posted by Time's Man of the Year)
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To: blackdog

I see Peter Weller on the History Channel sometimes. It’s entertaining because he really does know what he’s talking about. How often can you say that about an actor?


13 posted on 12/09/2007 8:52:42 PM PST by james500
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To: neverdem

Um, not so fast...

If I understand the technology correctly (which is a BIG assumption), you need a device to transmit muons and another device on the far side of the target to detect the trajectory deviations, so detecting submarines and tunnels might be difficult...


14 posted on 12/09/2007 8:53:34 PM PST by bt_dooftlook (Democrats - the "No Child/Left/Behind" Party)
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To: neverdem

alas...

Muons Meet Maya
Science News | 12-8-2007 | Betsy Mason
Posted on 12/08/2007 10:18:09 PM EST by blam
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1936809/posts

not to mention:

Space dust to unlock Mexican pyramid secrets
Reuters via MSNBC | Updated: 01:58 PM PT March16, 2004 | By Alistair Bell
Posted on 03/18/2004 8:34:06 PM EST by vannrox
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1100810/posts

Cosmic Rays To Solve Ancient Mexican (Pyramid) Mystery
Scotsman | 2-21-2005 | John von Radowitz
Posted on 02/21/2005 3:26:52 PM EST by blam
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1348047/posts


15 posted on 12/09/2007 9:22:27 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Profile updated Monday, December 10, 2007____________________https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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16 posted on 12/09/2007 9:25:49 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Profile updated Monday, December 10, 2007____________________https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: bt_dooftlook
If I understand the technology correctly (which is a BIG assumption), you need a device to transmit muons and another device on the far side of the target to detect the trajectory deviations, so detecting submarines and tunnels might be difficult...

I only read it once, but my impression is that we're catching free muons from outer space. IIRC, we study muons and subatomic particles in particle accelerators when they smash into each other at speeds close to the speed of light.

17 posted on 12/09/2007 9:26:16 PM PST by neverdem (Call talk radio. We need a Constitutional Amendment for Congressional term limits. Let's Roll!)
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To: bt_dooftlook

This ain’t my field so I’m not sure if I’ve got it right.

I think there is an ample supply of muons coming to us from outer space. If there’s enough of them, the effect might be similar to seeing an object pass in front of a light where you’re not so much seeing the object as the shape of the object blocking the photons from reaching your eye.

If there’s NOT enough of them for a detector to establish a usable background level then there’s a problem.

The universities doing cosmic muon detection report varying muon counts per hour. However, even the lower counts in the hundreds per hour sound like enough for a proof of concept device.

An interesting thing is that the detectors look trivial in design. Here’s a “Simple DIY (do-it-yourself) Cosmic Ray Detector”:

http://www.cosmicrays.org/


18 posted on 12/09/2007 9:28:01 PM PST by james500
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To: P8riot
Olmec, right?
19 posted on 12/09/2007 10:58:26 PM PST by JasonC
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To: neverdem
Ooooh.

Similar to the Stargate SG-1 episode about muons and a Mayan-themed civilization (with Daniel's crazy grandfather).

20 posted on 12/10/2007 3:00:04 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: All

The “Crystal Skull” episode.


21 posted on 12/10/2007 3:01:26 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: JasonC

The Olmecs pre-dated Teotihuacán


22 posted on 12/10/2007 3:05:13 AM PST by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: neverdem
I climbed that pyramid in January, 1977. If you go all the way up quickly without stopping, you get real dizzy!
23 posted on 12/10/2007 3:07:12 AM PST by aruanan
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

The last scenes of “Star Wars: Episode IV” were filmed in the Mayan city of Tikal. In fact Mayan literature contains a reference to “star wars”, battles tied to astronomical events.


24 posted on 12/10/2007 3:16:17 AM PST by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: aruanan

I suppose you are talking about the Pyramid of the Sun”. I last climbed it in June of 1999. Going up is easy. It rained when I was at the top.


25 posted on 12/10/2007 3:18:40 AM PST by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: P8riot
I suppose you are talking about the Pyramid of the Sun”. I last climbed it in June of 1999. Going up is easy. It rained when I was at the top.

Some of those steps are almost straight up. Other neat places were Mitla and Monte Alban down in the state of Oaxaca. Mitla was cool because it had paintings that still had some of the original paint. And the view of the mountains from Monte Alban was beautiful. I crawled into the bottom of one of the small pyramids and up through the top.

I didn't like the restoration efforts at the Pyramid of the Sun because, like Constitution Hall in Philadelphia, you couldn't tell what was original and what was restored.
26 posted on 12/10/2007 3:31:45 AM PST by aruanan
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To: P8riot
Interesting.

Appreciated.

27 posted on 12/10/2007 3:33:10 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: aruanan
My in-laws are missionaries to the Zapotec people and have lived in Mexico on and off since 1959. Their base of operations has been in Mitla, Oaxaca since 1968. The last time we went to visit them in he field was for 3 weeks in the summer of 1999. I was very impressed with the ruins at Mitla, the reliefs and the murals were fantastic. Monte Alban was fantastic as well.

The steps on the Pyramid of the Sun are almost straight up, but try coming down when they are wet. We were at Teotihuacán on June 21st (the summer solstice) and there were a bunch of pagans there doing their thing as well.

28 posted on 12/10/2007 4:44:19 AM PST by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: neverdem
Schwitters won't be the first to marry physics and archaeology in this way. In 1967, Nobel prize–winning physicist Luis Alvarez of the University of California, Berkeley placed a muon detector in a chamber beneath the pyramid of Khafra in Egypt to see if it was hiding any burial chambers like those discovered in the larger pyramid of Khufu. He found none, but the experiment showed that the method worked.

Alvarez used to bristle when people said he found no hidden chambers in the pyramid. It's not that he found no hidden chambers, it's that he found there were no hidden chambers.

29 posted on 12/10/2007 4:44:47 AM PST by Physicist
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

You’re welcome.


30 posted on 12/10/2007 4:48:01 AM PST by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: P8riot

Did you see that giant willow tree in some little town nearby? I also liked the marketplace in Oaxaca.


31 posted on 12/10/2007 5:20:17 AM PST by aruanan
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To: aruanan
You probably mean El Tulé. Yes, It's amazing. It's actually a Ahuehuete Cypress. It's the biggest (not the tallest) tree in the world.

The Oaxaca market is nice, but the Sunday market in Tlacolula (on the highway between Oaxaca City and Mitla) is better.

32 posted on 12/10/2007 5:48:49 AM PST by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: neverdem

So these muons are yielding a new cowsmology, I gather.


33 posted on 12/10/2007 6:01:21 AM PST by headsonpikes (Genocide is the highest sacrament of socialism.)
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To: P8riot

Did you buy any of those black clay whistles and flutes in Mitla? Some girl was selling them. I just plain didn’t want any and told her no. She thought I was regateando and kept lowering her price. I kept saying no until out of frustration she went down to something really ridiculous. Then I said yes. She got really mad. I then told her to forget it because I didn’t want anything like that anyway. She made some insulting remark about gringos. I told her I didn’t buy anything because of her attitude.


34 posted on 12/10/2007 8:44:39 AM PST by aruanan
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To: bt_dooftlook

I read it as more like reading wind speed by using a rain gauge.


35 posted on 12/10/2007 9:04:04 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: aruanan
No. My wife has a couple from when she was growing up there. We were too busy anyway, between visiting the ruins at Dainzu, Lambityeco, and Yagul, the formations at Hierve el Agua, and many local villages, plus helping with the mission and translation work.

Did you say you were there in 1977? My wife lived there until moving to the states in 1982. I don't know if you remember it or not, but there is a compound and airstrip on the left hand side of the main road into Mitla (between the village and the higher mountains). That is the translation center for the Instituto Lingüístico de Verano (Summer Institute of Linguistics). My father-in-law oversaw it's construction, and today heads up maintenance and new construction. He is 77 years old, and acts like he's 50. My mother-in-law (a year younger) does all of the book-keeping and administrative stuff.

36 posted on 12/10/2007 9:28:48 AM PST by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: bt_dooftlook
so detecting submarines and tunnels might be difficult...

Not if you knew where they were!

(Z ducks) 

37 posted on 12/10/2007 11:38:16 AM PST by zeugma (Ubuntu - Linux for human beings)
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To: P8riot

When I was first in college I thought of doing something like translating for Wycliffe. Our college group visited them in Mexico City January of 77 but I was sick and couldn’t make it. I recovered by the time we went to Oaxaca (and that Baroque church is quite beautiful). I ended up teaching school in the Dominican Republic and then coming back for graduate school.


38 posted on 12/10/2007 12:25:32 PM PST by aruanan
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To: Larry Lucido
I don’t mind the muouns.

And that is why they will punish you.

39 posted on 12/10/2007 5:45:57 PM PST by xJones
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