Feeds

Rainy day? Blame cosmic rays

Particle accelerators show us how

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Scientists have speculated for some time that cosmic rays could have an effect on the weather, and now the experiment designed to test the idea has begun collecting data.

The CLOUD experiment (which contrives to be short for Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) kicked off on Thursday last week, with a prototype detector in a particle beam at CERN. It is, you will be surprised to hear, the first time a particle detector has been used to investigate the links between space and Earth weather.

The experiment is designed to probe the tiny interactions between the clouds and cosmic rays. The working hypothesis is that cosmic rays can create seed particles, tiny aerosols around which cloud droplets form. This in turn can increase cloud cover, which is tremendously significant in determining our climate. Very small variations in the amount of cloud cover can make a big difference to the planet's energy balance.

So, scientists from a range of disciplines, including experts on cloud and solar physics, plan to send a high energy beam representing the cosmic rays into a closely monitored reaction chamber.

The chamber is filled with pure "air", evaporated oxygen and nitrogen produced by a gas system designed by CERN engineers. The scientists say it will be the cleanest air anywhere in the world, and therefore free of many of the other aerosols that are present in the atmosphere.

The beam's effect on aerosol production will be measured and analysed, and the first results are expected in the summer of 2007.

The full experiment will involve an advanced cloud chamber and reaction chamber capable of reproducing the temperature and pressure conditions anywhere in the atmosphere. The chambers will also be equipped with an array of instruments to detect the tiniest details of the physical interactions taking place. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.