This project provides an interesting window into the universe and the natural world around us, leaving the observer to form their own connections and conclusions. Information about Cosmic Rays, what they are, their origins and how to detect them are on my website here: cosmicray.com.au (open source)
I'm working on a number of different design approaches to this project as it will need to be more cost effective if I was to build a larger installation of 100 or more detectors. The detectors in the array may be enclosed in a type of bollard lamp post, sphere, something that hangs on a tree or tripod or is put in the ground like a paving block.
Another aim is to setup an IoT wireless network that links each detector, so for example 100 detectors spread across a hectare might be monitored in real time to produce inspiring graphics and music from overall detector activity. Further, each element of the Cosmic Array is a complete cosmic ray (muon) detector and also a radiation (gamma) monitor. So it is not just limited to a pretty light and sound display, it can also be used to measure both cosmic ray flux and local background radiation levels. Allowing the array to collect useful environmental data over a network or the internet.
Recently I completed a real-time demonstration using 16 Detectors in Adelaide for the Splash Adelaide winter festival on the 2nd and 3rd of September 2017.
Each detector in the array produced a bright flash of one of 4 colours (red, green, blue or white). In the same manner, one of 3 musical notes and all 3 notes ( a Chord) together, depending on the trajectory of the muon that passed through two or more Geiger–Müller tubes simultaneously. A combination of copper radiation shielding and coincidence detection methods were used to filter out local background radiation.
The Splash Adelaide installation was very successful will allot of public interest, questions and discussion about the universe. The IoT setup was also very successful using Pi Zero W and we were able to stream live data to another computer where it was mapped into music using MAX/MSP software. The sounds in the following video including bell sounds from each detector where combined into a beautiful musical soundscape.
The following video is summary of the build for this project.
I will also have this array on display along with other detectors I have made at the next Maker Faire Adelaide 2nd November 2017. Maker Faire Adelaide is the largest Maker Faire in Australia and in the Southern hemisphere. Also the only Maker Faire solely run by volunteers.
Note about: Geiger–Müller Tubes
I've had comments regarding the validity of using Geiger–Müller Tubes for a cosmic ray (muon) detector. Pointing out that Photomultipliers and scintillation panels are best, and yes the are far more effective. However, they are also expensive, whereas Geiger–Müller tubes are relatively cheap and easily available to purchase.
Although I'm currently working on a solid-state detector there are a few issues yet to overcome, so this is still a few months away. But will be a feature of the new detectors
History is full of examples of physicists using Geiger–Müller tubes for cosmic ray observations up to the 80s. Geiger Tube Telescopes (GTT) were used by NASA including many Pioneer spacecraft missions and others. One most notable user was Bruno Benedetto Rossi a famous Italian experimental physicist who made major contributions to particle physics and the study of cosmic rays. At the age of 24, he fabricated his own Cosmic Ray detector using Geiger–Müller tubes and then went on to invent the first practical electronic coincident circuit.