Feeds

Rainy day? Blame cosmic rays

Particle accelerators show us how

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.