Jennifer Shannon

The Cosmic Gong

Terrestrial and cosmic radiation "sonified"

Design Frontiers in Biology and Materiality,Mechanisms and Things That Move

High energy cosmic rays originating from the depths of outer space bombard our planet’s atmosphere, producing particles that cascade to earth at relativistic speeds. This radiation along with terrestrial radiation (from electronics, medical devices, radon,...), consists of energetic "particles" that pass through our bodies unbeknownst to us. In small doses, this radiation is mostly harmless.

The cosmic gong consists of 3 harmonic (CDE) singing bowls and a large wind gong. Hidden behind this meditative "apparatus" lies a detector capable of detecting and differentiating between terrestrial and cosmic radiation.

The detector consists of three Geiger Mueller tube circuits, an Arduino, coincidence counting software, and 4 solenoid circuits. Each of the three Geiger tubes corresponds to one of the three singing bowls. When a Geiger is triggered, a solenoid is fired, striking the corresponding bowl with a soft mallet. When the three Geiger tubes detect radiation simultaneously, the forth solenoid strikes the gong, signifying a cosmic event (about once an hour). These radiation events are then recorded.

The result is a harmonious and meditative sound (and aesthetic) which contrasts with what is often associated with particle physics, scientific hardware, and radiation.