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Cosmic Ray Extremely Distributed Observatory

A new collaboration paper has been posted on the arXiv  –

It references the cosmic ray app! We are looking for people in the collaboration to expand the iOS and server apps to integrate with the goals of the collaboration. Looking for instance to take the source code public (perhaps), add api calls to other event repos, etc.  See our app in action at .

We are excited about the observations planned here. The idea is to look for world wide shower patterns, of which not much is known since current detectors (well not cosmic ray app!) don’t have a global view of cosmic ray events.

The link to the PDF is here.

Here is our reference:

Thus, all the cosmic ray detectors working in this range, beginning from smartphones (e.g. DECO [4], CRAYFIS [5], CREDO Detector [6–8], Cosmic Ray App [9]) a

arXiv paper






Server Live

The server is live at

There are many improvements planned, but you can get an idea of the future of smartphone cosmic ray research by checking out the new site. Don’t forget to find those old iPhone 4s or 5s and plug em in! Cracked screens and no cell service are fine! Join the global cosmic ray team today! If anyone is a crack Android developer, let me know, we really need Android support.

Some features:

  • There is a link in the app to view all the events from your device.
  • The initial view is map based (as in the image). It allows for exploration.
  • We are planning on live updating the results coming in! Results are up to the minute or better now.
  • You can get views that show all the events in one (about 5km across) region, or look at all the events sorted by time, or see all the events sorted by score.
  • The locations are limited in precision for privacy considerations.

I am looking to update the iOS application next week to clean up the images from many of the newer phones. I am also promised a really fast GPU based signal analysis on the newer phones.


The server is at

Cosmic Ray Server needed – Physics student required.

Right now the results obtained with Cosmic Ray app while neato and all that, lack that ability that the internet gave us – namely to network!

I have a plan for a hopefully straightforward server that will collate, display and generally inform everyone (who chooses) about all the other Cosmic Ray apps running all around the world. Note that I am an experienced software engineer with a Ph.D. in physics.

I’m thinking and some recent favourite events pictured. Sort of like this live earthquake map (only more active and engaging).

With that in mind is there a physics student out there with (or wanting to learn) some of js/css/ruby/nodejs AND wants to be part of an actual experiment?

Note that I have come to the conclusion that not only is this a good educational project, there is also no experiment that looks at high energy events on a global real-time scale.

So we can work together and build a real physics experiment with worldwide participation!


[email protected]


Cosmic Ray App’s competition – Crayfis

Of course, it’s not really competition, its all the more fun and science!

From The Crayfis Blog

While it may appear that the CRAYFIS experiment has pulled a Rip Van Winkle, disappearing for the Tumblr-equivalent of 20 years, we’ve been as hard at work as ever. Since our last big publicity push in 2014, we’ve had several graduate students finish their PhD’s and move on – not necessarily to bigger and better things – but certainly to more lucrative prospects. Meanwhile, we’ve filled the gaps with a new generation of full-time CRAYFIS-ers who are helping to close the gap between a neat idea and a fully-fledged cosmic ray experiment.


Frankly, I find their software approach baffling. Its pretty easy to detect a GeV hit on a CCD. Good luck to them! It makes me want to go and add the server part to Cosmic Ray!



Cosmic Ray CCD video.

Nice video explaining how CCDs capture cosmic rays…

Its ‘just’ explaining a website, but its a nice easy 6 mins. The CCD in the experiment described is much thicker than an iPhone camera, so on the iPhone camera straight tracks are rarer, and cosmic rays are also often straight through – just dots.

How would you classify these?

Signal Processing details

From the Crayfis group: ( )

With the camera as the detector element, the phone processor runs an application which functions as the trigger and data acquisition system. To obtain the largest possible integrated exposure time, the first-level trigger captures video frames at 15-30 Hz, depending on the frame-processing speed of the device. Frames which con- tain any above-threshold pixels are stored and passed to the second stage which examines the stored frames, sav- ing only the pixels above a second, lower threshold. All qualifying pixels, typically a few per frame, are stored as a sparse array in a buffer on the phone, along with their arrival time and the geolocation of the phone. When a wi-fi connection is available, the collected pixels are up- loaded to a central server for offline shower reconstruc- tion; most events are between 50 − 200 bytes of data.

Cosmic Ray App

This is a single block event with a score of 610. Score is a device dependent relative score.

Cosmic Ray App takes a different approach. Look at fig 5 from the arXiv paper. This is with a muon source, so there are many tracks. Also there muons were shot at the phone along the edge of the detector, so all the tracks are long. A real event comes in at a random angle, and as such most of them will look like pin pricks. Or pin pricks on an angle. Instead of capturing at 30Hz, we capture a little slower (longer exposure), and then do lots of processing on phone. Cosmic Ray instead of looking for individual hot pixels looks for hot regions – essentially dividing the image captured into many small blocks. These blocks are processed and standout blocks are promoted to events. The events Cosmic Ray captures are thus tiny pictures of the hot parts of the screen. Usually this is one block, but sometimes two blocks are found on the same screen. These tiny images along with the data details constitute an event.

In a future version we will allow you to share these 60×60 pixel images with the world – effectively making a very large device.

Number of Cosmic Ray muons you can expect to see:

Muons arrive at sea level with an average flux of about 1 muon per square centimeter per minute. (

An iPhone has a detector size of about 4mm x 4mm, so 0.16 cm^2, so about one muon every 6 mins or so goes through the camera sensor. What percentage does the camera sensor pick up? Time will tell, as a full calibration has not been done, but the rate of decent events does seem to be about that.

A server to show off your work!

A server edition of Cosmic Ray will be able to show off your work. We are welcoming ideas about the server user experience and functionality. It would be cool to be able to download event data as CSV, to view a map of the earth with a scaled up time line, to see where the latest events are, to join teams and to band together into large detectors.

We are live!

The initial version is out on  the Apple App Store.

A 2 block event with a score of 1677. Scores in version 1 are not absolute, but rather relative – different phones will have different scores for similar events.

These shots are from my iPhone 5. Different phones have different looks. You can see some shape to this event.

The best way to run the app is overnight or for a few hours while the phone is plugged in to power.

We are really looking for feedback for the next step – which will be a server where your phone can report events to. We are thinking about whether to have user accounts, etc.

This looks like there might be some small shower events.

A cosmic ray shower is about 1 km in diameter on the ground, which happens to align with the size of a typical university campus. Eventually we want to have teams per university competing for the most/best events. It might get fun.

So one thought is that the server connected version will show a map of (anonymized) events on an  map of the earth, in real time.

Please comment with your images – cool ‘way to go’ kudos for all submitted images.

You can share an image out to your Dropbox account or email using the app, tap on an event and then pick ‘Save’.