Here’s what happened: Researchers with French nonprofit Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute locked arms with a group of Japanese physicists as part of its ScanPyramids mission, which is tasked with leveraging new technologies to map out and excavate the Khufu’s and Khafre’s pyramids. To accomplish such an audacious goal, the researchers thought big. Cosmically big.
Earth is constantly hit with cosmic rays, comprising hydrogen nuclei, that break up into smaller particles when they slam into the planet’s atmosphere. Some of these smaller particles created are called muons, which zip down to the surface of the planet at near the speed of light. They survive for just millionths of seconds. Muons are everywhere all the time, and while they don’t do anything, they’re extremely tough to observe.