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Void in Great Pyramid at Giza; new great ape species is dying; more in world news


Void in Great Pyramid of Giza?

The Great Pyramid of Giza has towered over Egypt for more than 4,500 years. Built during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu, the monument was a testament to the ruler's architectural prowess and is thought to have been a home for his mummified remains. For centuries, archaeologists have marveled at the King's chamber, the Queen's chamber and the Grand Gallery. Now, using a technique from the field of particle physics, researchers have harnessed cosmic ray collisions to uncover a "void" within the pyramid's stones that is roughly 100 feet long. "We don't know what this void is," said Mehdi Tayoubi, co-director of the ScanPyramids project, which published the finding Thursday in Nature. Other physicists who also work with muon tomography called the findings "pretty amazing." But many archaeologists questioned whether the study offered new information about the ancient Egyptians. They said it is probably empty space designed to lessen the weight on the pyramid's chambers, an example of features that were already documented in ancient monuments. However, the study may suggest advances in technology can offer a richer understanding of wonders of the ancient world.


Scientists discover possible new great ape species — that's dying

A remote population of frizzy-haired orangutans on the island of Sumatra seems to be a new species of primate, scientists say. But the newest member of the family tree of advanced animals that include humans may not be around much longer. Their numbers are so small, and their habitat so fragmented, that they are in danger of going extinct. A study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology said there are no more than 800 of the primates, which researchers named Pongo tapanuliensis, making it the most endangered great ape species. "If steps are not taken quickly to reduce current and future threats to conserve every last remaining bit of forest, we may see the discovery and extinction of a great ape species within our lifetime," researchers said. It's the first great ape species to be proposed by scientists in nearly 90 years. Previously, science has recognized six great ape species: Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. A genetic study indicates the population's evolutionary split from other orangutans occurred about 3.4 million years ago. Primatologist Russell Mittermeier, head of the primate specialist group at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and uninvolved in the study, called the finding a "remarkable discovery" that puts the onus on the Indonesian government to ensure the species survives.


Suu Kyi makes 1st visit to zone of 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingya

For the first time since Myanmar's military unleashed violence against Rohingya Muslims in August, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who heads the civilian government, on Thursday visited where the atrocities have been taking place. The United Nations and international rights groups have laid out evidence of an ethnic cleansing campaign across the state, Rakhine. They say hundreds, at least, have been killed, and the majority of the Rohingya population has been driven into nearby Bangladesh by the military's use of arson, execution and rape. The government, however, says it is fighting Rohingya Muslim "terrorists." Members of Suu Kyi's Cabinet say not a single Rohingya has been killed by the military, which Suu Kyi doesn't control. "I hope everything will go fine as local villagers handle the rebuilding process," Suu Kyi said in Rakhine. "We all have to try our best to live peacefully." Critics say Suu Kyi, in the most charitable interpretation of her actions, has allowed herself to be blinded to the realities of ethnic cleansing.


Pepper-spray can not beer opener

It's legal to drink beer in German movie theaters — but it's probably not a good idea to try to open your beer bottle with a pepper-spray canister. However, that's exactly what a man tried doing at a cinema Monday in Osnabrueck. Instead of opening his beer, the 29-year-old broke his pepper-spray container and some 200 people fled in tears. The cinema's manager told the news agency dpa on Wednesday that it was "chaos" as he called police, offered beverages to customers and opened the windows. He said the movie was restarted after 30 minutes. Police say no moviegoers have complained about eye or breathing problems. — tbt* wires