Visualizing Space

Visualizing Space aims to make subatomic layers of reality tangible. The project utilizes a unique geiger tube based technology and laser beams to visualize the truedectory particles from the universe. Everyday thousands of particles from the outer reaches of space passes through your body. This ubiquitous phenomenon takes place without any reaction with the matter that makes up your body. With this project I want to reveal the coexisting reality of particle physics by superimposing it onto the world that we perceive. Visualizing Space addresses a level of reality that is alien but equally as real as the one we accept on a daily basis.


My fascination with particle physics originates from my brief visit to the Chernobyl area in the Ukraine. Walking around Chernobyl had a huge impact on the way that I understood the concept of atomic radiation. From being an abstract concept on a microscopic scale it became a tangible phenomena existing in the same reality but separated across layers of existence. I realized that this intangible yet omnipresent phenomena possessed the potential of doing real damage to my body.

Since then I was looking for ways to communicate this experience. So when I came across geiger tubes and their ability to detect certain particles such as the Muon, I realized that I would be able to create a 3D live steaming of particles as they arrived from space.

working principle

The system is designed to detect Muon (μ) particles which typically originate as a bi-product when cosmic rays from the sun or other stars in the universe strike earth's atmosphere. Such rays are emitted with near the speed of light and travel through the universe until they reach a body of matter like the earth. They then hit the atmosphere they split into countless subatomic particles showering down towards the surface. The Muon particle has been detected as far down as 700 meters below ground.

However, the Muon can be detected by Geiger tubes in which a small electrical signal is generated when the particle passes through the tube. The signal can then be picked up by a detection systemt to verify the presence and potentially truedectory of the particles, then do a bit of data processing and subsequently turn on a laser beam corresponding with the way the particle passed through the space in which the detection system is installed. Consequently, the installation creates a live 3-dimensional visualization of subatomic particles generated by cosmic rays.

The technology used to make this project possible is basically the same as in the well known cloud chamber experiment. The Cloud Chamber consists of an environment in which a supersaturated vapor of alcohol allows particles to form trails when passing through the vapor. I order to realize this project I chose to utilize Geiger tubes to detect cosmic radiation. The tubes are made in the Soviet Union in the 1960's and, except for generating a signal, works like a Cloud Chamber.