The Distributed Electronic Cosmic Ray Observatory (DECO) is an effort to harness the global network of mobile devices to detect cosmic radiation.

Cosmic Rays were first discovered in 1912 by Victor Hess, who noted that radiation flux increased with altitude.  An unexpected phenomenon, this was the birth of particle physics.  In the years since, other particles such as the positron (1933) and the muon (1937) have been discovered, as well as general equations for mapping out the dispersal of the radiation as it approaches the earth.

The cameras in our cell phones do not just capture light, but also heat and light outside of the visible spectrum.  These CCD sensors, when robbed of light and generally surrounded by consistent heat, are capable of recording particles that intersect with the lens.  We’ve developed an Android app (to be run at night while the phone is charging) that takes snapshots and rules out images in a non computationally-expensive way, then uploads possible candidates to our servers.  Aggregate analysis begins on data collected around the globe to determine, among other things, the origin and behavior of the radiation.