With the cyptocurrency market literally exploding every day, the world is steadily moving towards decentralization in almost every aspect of our lives. This decentralization trend is so strong it is affecting domains that were previously exclusively reserved for experts and official institutions. For example, in recent years, we have seen a surge in citizen science projets that aim to empower ordinary citizens by given them an opportunity to contribute to scientific advancements. Citizen science projects range from identifying exoplanets (e.g., Planet Hunters), to bug hunting. Yes, if you have seen an invasive bug and want to help scientists build a system that predicts pests' movements, you can do that at the Big Bug Hunt Project's page. Going back to the actual topic of this article, MIT's physicists have created a muon particle detector that anyone can build using affordable common electronic parts.

But what a muon actually is? For starters, muon belongs to the subatomic family. That is, muon is a subatomic particle. Its name is derived from the Greek letter ยต (i.e., mu), which we pronounce "myoo". Until now, everything we've said about muons points in the direction of an ordinary subatomic particle. However, when you get past this simplistic definition, things start to get really weird. Ready for the thrill?

As an appetizer, a muon particle is the same as an electron, but there is a catch. Muon particles are heavier than electrons. In fact, a muon is 207 times heavier than an electron. In other words, a muon particle is a heavier version of an electron. Well, not so fast. What makes muons one the strangest particles in physics is their ghostly nature. Muons, which are created as a byproduct of cosmic rays colliding with the Earth's atmosphere, have a half-life of 1.52 microseconds. To put things into perspective, the Bismuth-209 has a half-life of 19 exayears. Yes, 19 quintillion years for science's sake. Simply put, most muons last only for a fraction of a second, and that is exactly what makes them hard to detect, which in turn makes the 100$ muon detector even more awesome!

The muon detector created by MIT's researchers is an Arduino-based detector that is made from common electronic parts, and when assembled, it can detect muon particles that pass in its vicinity. The creators have launched a dedicated website for the project in which you can find detailed explanations on how to build the most affordable muon detector on Earth. They say that an average high school student can build his own detector in a matter of four hours, if he is doing it for the first time. This time can be reduced to only one hour if the student has previous building experience.

If you want to become a citizen scientist with a degree in ghost particle hunting, now is your chance to detect these subatomic wonders before it is too late. Actually, it will almost always be too late to detect such particles, if you know what that means!

Source: MIT
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