MIRD: Meditative Ionizing-Radiation Detector

MIRD: Bowls and Gong by Donny Tsang @ Core77

Photo: Donny Tsang at Core77

MIRD was shown at the 2011 Spring Show at ITP (as the Cosmic Gong) and at the World Maker Faire 2012, where it was awarded two Editor’s Choice Ribbons.

High energy cosmic rays originating from the depths of outer space bombard our planet’s atmosphere, producing secondary particles that cascade to earth at relativistic speeds. This radiation along with terrestrial radiation (both natural and manmade,…), consists of energetic “particles” that pass through our bodies unbeknownst to us. In small doses, this radiation is mostly harmless.

MIRD detects, differentiates between, and sonifies cosmic and terrestrial radiation, creating a harmonious soundscape and an aesthetic that contradicts what is often associated with particle physics and radiation. MIRD consists of 3 harmonic (CDE) singing bowls and a large wind gong. Hidden behind the “apparatus” lies a detector capable of sensing and differentiating between terrestrial and cosmic radiation.

The detector emulates the methodology often employed for counting muons (cosmic rays) in a laboratory, but uses Geiger tubes instead of a scintillating material connected to a photomultiplier to detect radiation. The detector consists of three Geiger Mueller tube circuits, an Arduino, coincidence counting software, and four solenoid circuits. Each of the three Geiger tubes corresponds to one of the three singing bowls. When radiation passes through a Geiger tube, a solenoid is fired, striking the corresponding bowl. When any two of the three Geiger tubes detect radiation simultaneously, the forth solenoid strikes the gong, signifying a high energy cosmic event (a muon).The solenoids are dampened by rubber attachments, which nearly silence, to the unaided human ear, the sound created by a radiation hit. To hear the radiation, the user must listen to the resonation of the bowls and gong, as picked up by contact microphones, through a headset.

MIRD: Bowls and Gong Closeup