Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania are going to put an old sheet of aluminum under a neutron beam in the hope of solving the mystery of the disappearance of pilot Amelia Earhart. This is written by Live Science.
Amelia Earhart is the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Her mysterious disappearance in 1937 still excites the minds of enthusiasts: On July 2, Earhart, along with his navigator Fred Noonan, took off in a Lockheed-Electra L-10E twin-engine monoplane from Papua New Guinea, intending to circumnavigate the world. However, they never landed at their destination-Howland Island in the central Pacific Ocean. During the flight, Earhart contacted the Coast Guard ship Itasca, as she was apparently experiencing problems with the radio and instruments and was unsure of her exact location. Earhart, Noonan, and her monoplane were never found.
In 1991, Rick Gillespie, head of the International Missing Aircraft Search Team (TIGHAR), discovered an aluminum panel on the Pacific island of Nikumaroro, about 480 km from Howland. Gillespie thought the panel might have been from Earhart’s plane. And now, to determine whether this is the case, the staff of the Radiation Science and Technology Center (RSEC) at the University of Pennsylvania invited Gillespie to bring this metal panel for examination.
The fact is that in the center is the Breezil nuclear reactor. And using the reactor’s neutron beams, you can detect hidden traces on the metal surface, such as paint, which is no longer visible to the naked eye. To do this, the sample is placed in front of the neutron beam, and a digital plate is placed behind it, after which the image is recorded and scanned digitally.
Also, using neutron rays, scientists can find out exactly how this metal fragment was torn off. Researchers have already determined that there are ax marks along its edges except for one side, which “repeatedly bent” to tear it away from the whole piece.
However, according to Wesley Frey, director of the McClellan Nuclear Research Center (MNRC) at the University of California, Davis, this method will still not fully solve the mystery of the missing Earhart. “Will they get information about what era this metal was produced in? Yes, most likely, they will. Could they tie him to Amelia Earhart’s plane? Probably not, ” he said.
However, according to the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, they also plan to use neutron activation analysis to determine the material’s chemical composition accurately. And if they prove that the piece of aluminum found contains alloys used in the construction of aircraft in the era of Earhart, this will be an additional argument in favor of its connection with her plane.
According to the researchers, the results of the analysis will be published this year.