ANCIENT Egypt has held the world in thrall for so long that some of those once enthralled are now ancient history themselves. Well-to-do Romans of the early Empire, for instance, would tour the place to look at antiquities older to them than the Colosseum is to a tourist today. Yet Egypt keeps secrets still. Its royal tombs, both those underground and the skyward-reaching pyramids, are rife with stories of hidden chambers. And, in the most famous tomb of all, the Great Pyramid of Giza, one such has just been shown to be real.
It was discovered by Kunihiro Morishima of Nagoya University, in Japan, and his colleagues. They searched not by the time-honoured archaeological techniques of digging with trowels and knocking down walls with hammers, but by muon tomography—an esoteric way of looking inside things using the fallout from cosmic rays that have hit Earth’s atmosphere. Muons are heavy kin to electrons. They are able to penetrate solid matter to some degree, but are eventually absorbed by it. By measuring the absorption rate of…Continue reading