Most people are unaware of Cosmic Rays, yet they exist everywhere. Created long ago when stars supernova, black holes eat, and binary stars merge. The same processes that thrust heavy elements made inside stars and other extreme events to form interstellar dust, asteroids, planets, and the building blocks for life.

Those same extreme events create powerful magnetic shockwaves that accelerate primary particles to near the speed of light. That continued to travel through the vastness of space and time till finally smashing into the earth’s atmosphere, creating showers of energetic particles we call Cosmic Rays.

Primary particle creating shower
Image by: Dr Clewer – Surrey Space Centre

Cosmic Rays are an ongoing and continuous reminder of the immense scale, age, and complexity of the universe and the importance of science to our understanding. This website is open source and shares how to build a Cosmic Ray Detector to visualise and/or the sonification of Cosmic Ray showers. It is an opportunity to share with others an appreciation of Cosmic Rays: how tiny our little blue planet is, where it exists within the vastness of the universe, a precious, rare and fragile place, something worth protecting.

In the words of a famous scientist and commentator Carl Sagan 1936-94 in a discussion about an image taken of Earth by the Voyager Spacecraft the first time in history Earth had been seen from deep space:

Pale Blue Dot
The first time in history Earth was seen from deep space – Voyager Spacecraft “Pale Blue Dot”

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
Copyright © 1994 by Carl Sagan, Copyright © 2006 by Democritus Properties, LLC.
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