Predicting natural disasters using cosmic muons

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Every minute, up to 10,000 muons rain down on every square metre of the Earth’s surface, ghosting through our bodies as we go about our lives. Increasingly, scientists are using these subatomic particles – produced when cosmic rays collide with atoms high in the atmosphere – to help predict natural disasters.

Observing how muon fluxes change when passing through objects can reveal the hidden interiors of volcanoes and other difficult-to-access structures. This video explores the emerging field of muography, which is now also being used to predict how cyclones will evolve in terms of strength, speed and direction.

Find out more about muon tomography by reading the recent Physics World feature ‘Earth, wind and water: how cosmic muons are helping to study volcanoes, cyclones and more‘.

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