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Converting Cosmic Rays to Sound During a Transatlantic Flight to Zurich

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Uploaded on Feb 25, 2012

A sequence of musical notes illustrates the rapid change in background radiation as a passenger aircraft flies from the ground to a high altitude. Prior to the enhanced security associated with travelling by plane, I often carried a Geiger counter on flights. Sometimes I logged the data using an HP-100 pocket computer. The musical composition here is from the cosmic background count measured during a flight from San Antonio to Atlanta and then to Zurich. The graph shows how the count rises very dramatically from around 11 counts per minute at the ground to several hundred counts per minute at altitudes of 35,000 feet or more. The moving slider (center) is aligned with the graph below to provide a general indication of the background count and the selected musical tones ("Music Box").
CREDITS
The Geiger counter data was converted to sound by an algorithm [linked on the YouTube clip]. The algorithm was developed by Dr. Jonathan Middleton with assistance from Andrew Cobb, Michael Henry, Robert Lyon, and Ian Siemer. The Geiger counter data were collected by Forrest M. Mims III (www.forrestmims.org).

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