How 'Star Trek' paved the way for this week's amazing pyramid discovery

Science News

Last week, Liberty Science Center launched its new Star Trek technology exhibition. Yesterday, scientists discovered a passage within Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza.

These two things have more in common than you realize. That's because the scientists and explorers involved in the pyramid discovery used technology potentially inspired by Star Trek.

One of the devices Star Trek was famous for was a particle beam. In several instances throughout the series, the crew used particle beams for different reasons – scanning, for instance. In one episode, a trio of hunters used a modified particle beam to scan Deep Space 9 while hunting for an alien species known as a Tosk.

Here on Earth, scientists used something like a particle beam to scan the inside of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Although they didn’t discover a Tosk, they did discover a secret passage that hasn’t been seen for thousands of years. Even more impressive!

The “particles” used in our version of “particle beams” are subatomic particles called muons. Muons are essentially atom fragments produced by cosmic rays. These little particles can pass through hundreds of feet of solid rock before they are absorbed or decayed. As a result, they can scan through pyramid walls, and virtually give us an image similar to an X-ray.

<i><center>Scientists using a muon telescope (photo from ScanPyramids mission)</i></center>
Scientists using a muon telescope (photo from ScanPyramids mission)

The image produced by the muons revealed the insides of the pyramid, which led to the discovery of the new passageway.

Researchers are not sure what is inside or what the purpose of this room was used for. More investigation must be done, however it is extremely dangerous to explore on foot. Usually, scientists will send mini rovers into tight tunnels that could collapse or rooms that could be booby-trapped. Until teleportation becomes a reality, there’s a good chance people won’t be able to explore the area for themselves for safety reasons. After all, the researchers wish to live long and prosper, too!

A particle beam is just one of the many technologies from Star Trek that inspired so much of today's cutting-edge innovations. You can learn more in our newest exhibition, Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience, here through May 2018.

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