In 1966 hilarious prankster and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman spoke to the National Science Teachers Association. The topic: What is Science? Feynman, a famously out-of-the-box thinker, didn’t give a definition — he described a process. He told attendees how he learned to do science, giving a detailed overview of formative experiences and underscoring their intellectual value. One of the patterns that emerged is that a mystery can be more valuable than the solution.
When introduced to the mathematical concept pi, Feynman couldn’t comprehend it. “But this was a great thing,” he said, “and the result [was] that I looked for pi everywhere.” When trying to determine why birds pecked at their feathers, he guessed wrongly, but his father revealed the true answer, and Feynman learned something new. And so “the point of this is that the result of observation, even if I were unable to come to the ultimate conclusion, was a wonderful piece of gold, with marvelous results.”
With that in mind, read this article with an invisible asterisk, partly because scientists may solve some or all of these mysteries one day — maybe today! But more importantly because failing to solve these mysteries is a journey of discovery in itself.
DOES THE GREAT PYRAMID VOID CONTAIN AN IRON THRONE?
Iron thrones might be a painful subject for Game of Thrones fans who wanted to dracarys all over the final season. But this isn’t about that show. It’s about the disagreements and intrigue surrounding a world of mythical creatures and monarchs. That world, of course, is ancient Egypt. Where does the iron throne fit in? It might sit inside what archaeologist Yukinori Kawae called “the discovery of the century.” Hidden within Giza’s Great Pyramid is what seems to be an enormous void — potentially a chamber — that’s at least 100 feet long and situated over a long conduit called the Grand Gallery that leads to the burial chamber of the pharaoh Khufu. Scientists detected the void in 2017 using muon radiography, which tracks the motion of subatomic particles called muons.
Archaeoastronomy professor Giulio Magli told Newsweek that the void may contain an iron throne mentioned in the ancient Pyramid Texts. Sitting in it supposedly opened the gates to the afterlife. However, skeptical Egyptologists have argued that the “void” is likely a construction gap believed to be typical of pyramids. And Egyptologist David Lightbody claimed that scientists may have detected two smaller gaps that create a muon-driven illusion of vaster emptiness. Robot-mounted cameras may resolve the matter, but as Live Science described, that would entail drilling holes in the pyramid, and researchers would need permission from the Egyptian government.