Bristol-area Students Conduct Award-winning Cosmic Ray Research

Three students won a silver award at the National HiSparc Conference for their research into cosmic rays. The students are studying for their A-levels at South Gloucestershire and Shroud College's further education program (the equivalent of a transfer college in the US). They combined data from a DIY cosmic ray detector with data from a local amateur’s personal weather station, to find a correlation between ambient temperature and the subatomic particles raining down on the detector. (Via the Bristol Post)

The background behind the news:

Supernova explosions accelerate the nuclei of atoms close to light speed. These cosmic ray particles shatter atoms in the upper atmosphere, releasing a spray of subatomic particles that trigger collisions of their own. Since cosmic rays can’t reach Earth’s surface, scientists measure the shower of subatomic particles to reconstruct the original particle.

HiSparc is a network of educational research stations at colleges and high schools in the Netherlands and western Britain. The students build and operate the detectors to enhance their science education while the professional scientists get a large, distributed cosmic ray observatory that they could not afford to build on their own.

Read these feature articles for more information about educational cosmic ray observatories: