Help Polish scientists find dark matter – all you need is a smartphone

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During the conference in Krakow, scientists from the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences announced the accession of 27 research organizations from around the world to the CREDO project. Researchers will use data collected using mobile applications and smartphone cameras. Thanks to them, they hope to find answers to issues such as the impact of cosmic rays on climate change, earthquakes and evolution. They also hope that it will be possible to register dark matter particles for the first time and prove the theory of quantum gravity.

The Planetary Space Radiation Particle Detector (CREDO) is a research project using both specialized detectors used by scientists and cameras of smartphones and tablets. To add "your contribution" to the development of science, you need to install the CREDO Detector mobile application on your Android device and then cover the lens. It turns out that CMOS sensors mounted in cameras are perfect for detecting particles called muons that arise after a high-energy particle hits the Earth's atmosphere. On average, 5 muons pass through the human head in one second.

CREDO is already an international project

27 institutions from 12 countries participate in the CREDO project, coordinated by Professor Piotr Homola from the Polish Academy of Sciences. Including 11 from Poland, 3 from the United States, and 2 from Australia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. The project was initiated on August 30, 2016 at the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow. The CREDO Detector application is handled by the Cracow University of Technology, and the data is processed by the Academic Computer Center Cyfronet of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow.

Scientists will use data to detect dark matter, as well as test hypotheses regarding the impact of cosmic rays on earthquakes, climate and species evolution. Physicists also hope that research will understand the nature of space-time and perhaps prove the theory of quantum gravity.

Using a smartphone and a mobile application, you can help in the search for dark matter (IFJ PAN graphic)

To make the search more attractive, scientists also prepared competitions such as the Team Particle League, in which teams compete with each other in such "disciplines" as the total time of observations using smartphones, or the number of particles detected.

– We strive to appreciate everyone involved in particle detection. In addition to the satisfaction of being able to see your own name in a scientific publication, we want every participant to feel really involved in the research – emphasizes dr hab. Piotr Homola, CREDO coordinator.

Pictures of particles sought by scientists recorded using smartphones (photo: IFJ PAN)

Look for dark matter …

We know that there is more than five times more dark matter in the universe than ordinary matter. However, despite many detectors used in research institutes, so far not a single particle of dark matter has been detected. The team of scientists working on the CREDO project hopes that through smartphone cameras, it will eventually be done.

… and help discover the nature of space-time

Scientists also want to use the distributed CREDO particle detector to check, among others whether space-time has a discrete structure, as assumed by the theory of quantum gravity. The consequence of this state of affairs would be observation of phenomena stretched in time. Something similar has already been observed, but only once. In 1983, a network of cosmic radiation detectors recorded 32 cases of large atmospheric showers in Canada within minutes. And it would probably not be anything unusual if it wasn't for the fact that only one such observation was expected. Unfortunately, the observation has not been repeated so far. Who knows, maybe thanks to CREDO and Quantum Gravity Previewer experiment we will be able to discover more of this type with

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