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Scientists Scan Great Pyramid with Cosmic Rays, Find Hidden Chamber
Researchers believe it may help uncover the secret to how the pyramid was built.
The Great Pyramid itself, built by the Pharaoh Khufu (or Cheops) is one of the oldest monuments standing. It’s 456 ft. high (139 m) and thought to be around 4,500 years old. This is the largest of all the ancient pyramids and one of the most impressive structures ever built by human hands. It’s also puzzled modern scholars in a number of ways.
How exactly it was built has been the biggest question and it’s been mulled over for centuries. Despite our advanced technology, experts still don’t agree on how it was done. Fortunately, a discovery about the Great Pyramid offers a new avenue for us to explore, in order to gain insight into how it was built. Researchers used a unique method to visualize the internal architecture of Khufu's Great Pyramid, one of Earth’s most iconic structures.
Remember the pyramid isn’t only a monument but King Khufu’s tomb. This greatest remnant of Egypt’s Old Kingdom contains several spaces with connecting corridors including a King’s Chamber, Queen’s Chamber, and a Grand Gallery—essentially an enormous passageway 153 ft. long (46.6 m) and 26 ft. (7.9 m) high. It terminates in the pharaoh’s chamber.
These scientists found a space sitting atop the Grand Gallery that’s at least 98 ft. (30 m) long and perhaps longer. This is the first time since the 19th century that a chamber inside of the Great Pyramid has been discovered. Researchers still aren’t sure if it’s horizontal or vertical, and if it’s one large chamber or two, or even a series of chambers.
The internal structure of the Great Pyramid. By Jeff Dahl, via Wikimedia Commons
Some dream of priceless treasures being unearth. UK Egyptologist Aidan Dodson told Scientific American that there’s no chance of a new burial chamber having been discovered. What’s so compelling though is that no one knows what's in there.
Engineers, physicists, and archeologists contributed to this research as part of the international collaboration known as the ScanPyramids project. That’s in turn part of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute (HIP). HIP is a nonprofit located in France, dedicated to preserving humanity’s cultural heritage through the use of modern technology. The scientists teamed up with colleagues at Nagoya University in Japan to probe the Great Pyramid in an entirely new way, using high-energy particle physics.
Cosmic rays constantly bombard the Earth, but the upper atmosphere takes the brunt of this onslaught. What’s left over are harmless particles known as muons. These make it to the surface in vast multitudes. Blast these subatomic particles through an object with a sensor on the other side and you’ll get a glimpse of the object’s internal architecture. The more muons put out, the better your visual. So that’s what researchers essentially did to the pyramid.
This same technology is often used for understanding the internal network of tunnels which make up a volcano, and it was also used to determine the situation with the Fukushima Power Plant’s damaged reactor when it melted down. A similar attempt was made with muon detection in a smaller pyramid in the 1970s.
Nothing was found at that time, but the method has improved significantly since then. Sensitive muon detectors have been fashioned for work in particle accelerators, and these have helped bring this discovery to fruition.
The mysteries of the Great Pyramid may soon be solved. Credit: Getty Images.
Kunihiro Morishima of Nagoya University was the lead researcher on this study. He and colleagues launched this project by placing muon detectors in the Queen’s Chamber in December 2015. Muons can travel through rock, depending on the type and density. Knowing this, scientists were surprised when many more muons were received by their sensors than expected, meaning they were passing through a large void.
Dr. Morishima soon called in help from Japan’s High Energy Accelerator Research Organization and France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. The teams of scientists used different kinds of muon sensors and detector films to trace back these subatomic particles and develop a more sophisticated picture of the anomaly inside. This second leg started in August 2016 and wrapped up in July of this year. Readings were taken at multiple locations in and around the pyramid.
There are several theories on what the chamber might be for. It could be a “relieving chamber” to take weight off the Grand Gallery. It could be part of a sophisticated counterweight system that helped raise the granite which comprises the King’s Chamber. Or it could be part of a ramp that helped masons construct the pharaoh’s final resting place. More research will hopefully yield a greater understanding of this millennia-old enigma.
To see ScanPyramids official report, click here:
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Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Is focusing solely on body mass index the best way for doctor to frame obesity?
- New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
- The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
- The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.