Is there an undiscovered tomb hidden in this ancient Mayan pyramid? Roy Schwitters, a professor of physics, and his team are using naturally occurring particles to scan a 20-meter tall mound of dirt and rock—the overgrown ruins of a Mayan pyramid in Belize. They are searching for stairs, chambers or artifacts without digging.
Ultimately, any Mayan artifacts the researchers find might help answer an even bigger question: why did such an advanced civilization collapse?
Muons—high-energy particles created by collisions between cosmic rays and our atmosphere—rain down on Earth continuously.
Muons lose energy as they pass through rock, but not when they pass through a void like a pyramid chamber.
Detectors measure the angles and energies of incoming muons, indicating how the mound’s density varies in different directions.
Combining data from two or more detectors yields a 3D image of the internal structure, much like a medical CT scan.