Skip to comments.Muons Meet the Maya
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 universeusing 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 ...
Teotihuacán has not been proved to be Mayan. It pre-dates the Mayan civilization.
I think we could find a few military applications for this technology, dontcha think?
I don’t mind the muouns.
“With muons, all you need is a way to capture them and analyze their trajectories.”
It’s just that easy!
“”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.
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....
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.
New Kind of Stem Cells Reverse Sickle Cell Anemia Here's another take.
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The never ending quest for unobtainium ..........:o)
I can’t figure how they knew I where I hid it.
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?
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...
Muons Meet Maya
Science News | 12-8-2007 | Betsy Mason
Posted on 12/08/2007 10:18:09 PM EST by blam
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
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
Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
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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.
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”:
Similar to the Stargate SG-1 episode about muons and a Mayan-themed civilization (with Daniel's crazy grandfather).
The “Crystal Skull” episode.
The Olmecs pre-dated Teotihuacán
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did you see that giant willow tree in some little town nearby? I also liked the marketplace in Oaxaca.
The Oaxaca market is nice, but the Sunday market in Tlacolula (on the highway between Oaxaca City and Mitla) is better.
So these muons are yielding a new cowsmology, I gather.
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.
I read it as more like reading wind speed by using a rain gauge.
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.
Not if you knew where they were!
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.
And that is why they will punish you.
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