Pyramid Secret?

COURTESY OF SCANPYRAMIDS MISSION
JIM MCMAHON/MAPMAN®

A team of scientists recently announced the discovery of a mysterious empty space within the Pyramid of Khufu, or the Great Pyramid of Giza, in Egypt. This 4,500-year-old tomb is considered one of the ancient wonders of the world.

To study the inside of the pyramid, researchers used an imaging technique that detects muons. Muons are fast-moving, charged subatomic particles that are smaller than an atom. They are created when cosmic rays traveling through space strike molecules in Earth’s atmosphere.

COURTESY OF SCANPYRAMIDS MISSION (LEFT); COURTESY OF PHILIPPE BOURSEILLER/SCANPYRAMIDS MISSION (RIGHT)
  • HIGH-TECH: Researchers examine their findings using augmented-reality glasses (left).
  • SETTING UP: Researchers place muon detectors in the Queen’s Chamber (right).

Muons scatter as they pass through solid materials. Using this knowledge, researchers placed muon-detecting sensors in the Queen’s Chamber. The pattern of muons the sensors detected revealed the existence of a large, empty space about 30 meters (100 feet) long inside the structure.

“I was very surprised because the big void was not predicted by anyone until our investigation used cosmic ray imaging,” says Kunihiro Morishima, a physicist from Nagoya University in Japan who took part in the project.