Classroom Muon Telescope Experiments

The experiments you can do with the muon telescope are probably the very best way to get students interested in thinking about particles. You can start the experiments with everything being a black box, including the muons, and little by painless little the questions will be asked and the thinking will be done. The students need not put in much time taking data and the experiments are almost guaranteed to surprise, puzzle, and to suggest revisions and extensions. It feels like doing original work.  The page “Getting Started  explains how the muon telescopes work and gives students some guidelines on how to design an experiment with them.


The experiments below are some of the ones which have been tried with varying success. In all of them the work is not finished, in the sense that the result was incomplete or indefinite or even just unreasonable!  Most of the descriptions included here are very general; we’ve tried to include only as much detail as necessary to give students an idea of all the possibilities there are for experiments.     

Categories of Experiments

v     Cosmic Ray Absorption and Shielding

v     Flux Determination

v     Surveys

v     Muon Lifetime Measurements

v     Other Ideas for Experiments


Cosmic Ray Absorption/Shielding

v     Absorption in different materials

v     Vary placement of absorber

v     Vary thickness of absorber

v     Induced Cosmic Ray Showers

v     Cosmic Ray Scattering


Flux Measurements

v     Varying paddle separation

v     Comparing Flux with Previous Measurements

v     Variation with Time, Temperature, Pressure, etc.


Cosmic Ray Surveys

v     Variation with Altitude Angle

v     Variation with Azimuthal Angle

v     Flux vs Location


Muon Lifetime

v     Measuring the Microsecond Lifetime of the Muon


Other ideas which have not yet been tried are:

v     Compare flux values with friends. You might see differences due to elevation and …?

v     Big variations in location (airplane, mine)

v     Detection of showers

v     Deflection by magnetic field (Earth’s, go north)

v     And all of those you have and will think up


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