Space Particles being harnessed to unravel Mayan temples mysteryNovember 14th, 2007 - 8:14 am ICT by admin
“There is good reason to believe (the structures) contain rooms and chambers … that have been likely undisturbed since the time of the Maya,” Discovery News quoted him as saying during a talk at the annual meeting of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing last week.
The researchers are targeting their future excavations directly to the chambers because they hope to find the sophisticated vestiges of Mayan life there.
To achieve this target, the researchers are relying on muons-tiny, high-energy particles created by cosmic rays streaming from the sun and other sources, which penetrate the ground and reach depths of hundreds of feet before dissipating entirely.
Schwitters’ team will place half a dozen muon detectors around a structure, let them collect data for a few weeks, and then analyse that data to find the chambers.
“It literally is like tomography in the medical sense. You can image big things — like 100-meter-sized things — with a couple of months’ worth of data,” he said.
Muon tomography was conceived and developed by physicist and Nobel laureate Luis Alvarez to study the Second Pyramid of Chephren in Egypt about 30 years ago.
Although Alvarez did not find any unknown chambers, he proclaimed his experiment a success.
Schwitters said that the technique never caught on because “the high-energy physics community was totally engaged in a very exciting period of discovery which took off about the time of the Alvarez experiment with the advent and subsequent confirmation of the standard model of particle physics.”
“The detectors are more robust and somewhat less expensive today, and no other technology has proven to be superior for imaging such large structures,” he added.
The researchers, who have developed a prototype detector weighing about 200 pounds, hope to begin fieldwork in Belize by the spring of 2009. (ANI)
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Tags: cosmic rays, discovery news, energy particles, high energy physics community, luis alvarez, mayan life, mayan temples, medical sense, meeting of the council, muon detectors, particle physics, physicist, schwitters, science writing, second pyramid, target, tomography, vestiges