Q: What are muons?
A: Muons are negatively charged subatomic particles (smaller than an atom or occurring within an atom) that come from the lepton family – the same family as electrons, though muons are much heavier. Like electrons, muons are not thought to be made up of any smaller particles, making them a so-called elementary particle.
Q: When were muons discovered?
A: Muons were first discovered in 1936 by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Carl Anderson and Seth Neddermeyer at Caltech in the US while they were studying cosmic radiation.
Q: How are muons created?
A: Muons are created when cosmic rays – high energy radiation that originates from outside the Solar System – collide with molecules in the upper atmosphere. Around 10,000 muons reach every square metre of the Earth’s surface each minute.
Q: How far can muons travel?
A: Muons don’t interact very strongly with matter, and are therefore are able to travel through solid
objects – including human bodies – and penetrate deep into the surface of the Earth.
Q: Can muons be used as x-rays?
A: Muons can be used to image the internal structure of objects in a manner like X-rays because of their ability to penetrate deep into solid matter. Detectors are placed in strategic positions around the object to be scanned and left running for several months. Over time, a pattern of detections develops, revealing the void areas where the muons passed through without issue, and the denser areas where some of them were absorbed or scattered. The internal structure of the object can, therefore, be discerned. The technique known as Muon Tomography has previously been used to reliably image and create 3D models of the interior of volcanoes, making clear the distinction between rocks of different temperatures, water, and voids beneath the surface, and to probe the ruins left behind in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Q: Does Jesus care about muons?
A: Yes, I believe that Jesus cares about muons and the incarnate Jesus was aware of their presence in the earth’s atmosphere long before Carl Anderson and Seth Neddermeyer ever discovered them in 1936, although he (Jesus) did not mention them in the Bible. Jesus is the cosmic Lord (Colossians 1: 9-20), but the relevancy of the subject is an issue here. Jesus was (and remains) the only redemptive seed planted by God to reconcile man to God. He communicated with the people he was sent to in analogies which they could appreciate. Discussing the science of cosmic rays with that generation could not have assisted in the communication of the redemptive plan of God. But I want to imagine that if Jesus were incarnate to this tech-savvy generation, and he wanted to refer to muons, he may have a told a parable like this:
The word of God is like cosmic rays that originate from outside the Solar System. Good soils are like molecules in the upper atmosphere. When the word (cosmic rays) collides with molecules (good soils) in the upper atmosphere, a new generation of supermen (muons) are created who can do all things through me.