Robert Hart is developing his own cosmic ray detector using familiar fluorescent tubes and a high voltage(~650V DC) power supply. The design is a variation on an example from CERN researcher Sascha Schmeling’s DIY Spark Chamber

Like the CERN example above, when a muon flys through the fluorescent tube, the gas inside ionizes due to the high voltage field across the plates. As a result of the ionization the resistance across the plates will fall slightly and so it should be possible to measure this as a change in current flow in the high voltage source.


Radiation originating from Earth will effect the first tube but not the one below it. So singling out matching events between the two should result in the detection of high energy particles sent from a cosmic event — awesome. Head over to Robert’s site for more info on his process and progress. [via Little-Scale]

From the pages of MAKE:

Build a cloud chamber 
Volume 09, page 156