In project Cosmic Rain, light-sound installation, the artist Tilen Sepič analyses and visualises the phenomenon of “cosmic rays”, high-energy particles invisible to the naked eye that originate in space, mostly outside our solar system.
The installation uses muon detectors, which trigger strong flashes of LED lights and resonating beats of electromagnets. In physics, muons are elementary particles that, like electrons, are classified as leptons. On Earth, they are produced when cosmic rays hit the upper layers of the atmosphere. Even though their half-life is 2.2 µs, they can be relatively easily detected on Earth’s surface (with appropriate equipment) as they arrive at sea level with an average flux of about 1 muon per square centimetre per minute.
For a long time, the technology for such measurements was not accessible outside the context of laboratories and research institutions. In 2017, MIT published the blueprint of the Cosmic Watch muon detector, developed by professors and PhD students at MIT, WiPAC (USA) and NCBJ (PL) as free hardware and an upgrade of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica.