The soft music of particles …

The Muoscope

The Muoscope is a muon detector entirely realized in the laboratory from detection elements of an old detector (TONNERRE). It was awarded the Schlumberger “Têtes Chercheuses” prize at the 2015 edition. The particularity of this device is that it was developed with the aim of being used as a practical workshop for the Master’s degree course in Nuclear Physics option at the University of Caen. In this context, the Muoscope can thus be considered as a tool for the valorization of knowledge at the service of Master’s teaching.

Play Video

The Muoscope was the recipient of the Schlumberger Museum Award in 2015. This project, led by Arnaud Chapon (LPC Caen) and Jean-Charles Thomas (GANIL), reminds us that we are all stardust.

The Muoscope project actually represents 2 projects. On the one hand, a cosmic wheel intended for demonstrations for the general public. On the other hand, cosmodetectors and a web platform dedicated to school audiences. The Muoscope makes it possible to make the link between cosmic radiation and its measurement by detectors.

Muons are very interesting objects from a scientific point of view. They are among the few elementary particles from which the Universe was formed. They are also the only particles of cosmic origin detectable at ground level.

There are objects in the Universe that produce and accelerate high-energy particles. Their interaction with the Earth’s atmosphere produces muons. Muon research must identify sources capable of producing particles at such colossal energies that they cannot be reproduced on Earth, even with accelerator facilities such as the LHC. Are they black holes, star collisions, …? Research on cosmic radiation is one of the reasons for the creation of the LPC…

The cosmic wheel allows us to make this link with the research carried out in Basse-Normandie for many years. This device was built from elements of the “Thunder” detector which was designed at the LPC and then used at GANIL and CERN. 

Thanks to funding from the Schlumberger Museum Foundation, this tool for popularizing science is also used in practical work (TP) with Master’s students at the University and thus renews teaching practices. This grant allowed us to manufacture 2 cosmodetectors on the model of those developed by the CPPM for the “Cosmos at school” project.


The artists, Amélie Delaunay and Yann Fontbonne were associated with the project to add an artistic dimension. This makes the device more attractive, more accessible and more surprising through drawing and sound. From the very first steps we were able to approach the project in a non-scientific way.

Cosmodétecteur IN2P3
Cosmodétecteur IN2P3

COSMOS at school

This project offers each year to about thirty schools to have a detector to carry out cosmic ray measurements and to benefit from the support of a researcher. It is a very interesting project which does not manage to meet all the requests of the teachers. We would therefore like to be able to contribute to increasing the response capacity of this device, especially in the regions. The web platform should contribute to this by allowing continuous monitoring of projects and the organization of more regular meetings by videoconference, for example.

The “Cosmos at school” network includes 30 cosmodetors in circulation in schools; 20 are also permanently installed at the Pic du Midi. This makes a fairly large network but, except for a few specific events, each machine is used in an isolated way.

The web platform we are developing will offer analysis and exchange tools that will allow students to share and discuss their results. Allowing a teacher to discuss with another teacher at the end of France is something new. Collaboration is a very important dimension of the research profession. They spend a large part of their time exchanging with their colleagues to understand what they see and set up new experiences. This idea is inspired by the CERN Masterclasses. The principle of this system is precisely to offer content common to several classes so that they can work together. With the added dimension that these Masterclasses take place over one day, whereas our system will be deployed over several months.

Some results can only be achieved through this networking. This makes it possible to cross-reference measurements and to highlight correlations on a large scale. This is how large fundamental research instruments such as the Auger detector work. With this network of cosmodetectors distributed over the territory, students are given the same tools as researchers.

It is a project that will develop over several years, especially its web component. This “Muon Community” will be launched with 2 or 3 users but, obviously, our interest is that it develops until, perhaps, it becomes autonomous and is managed by its members.

Le Muoscope

The Muoscope


The first winner of the Schlumberger Museum Award is the Laboratory of Corpuscular Physics with the Billotron. Based on the principle of the Rutherford experiment (1911), the father of nuclear physics, the Billotron presents the research work by illustrating the approach of scientists to access the infinitely small and observe the invisible.

Schlumberger Foundation: one family, one museum, one award

The "Têtes chercheuses" competition is organized in partnership with Relais d'Sciences. Open to all scientific and/or technical teams in Basse-Normandie, this competition aims to encourage innovative approaches to scientific mediation. It awards the Schlumberger Museum Prize, endowed with 10,000 euros by the Schlumberger Museum Foundation, and allows the realization of a project illustrating a research problem and the initiation of a dialogue with the public. The winning project is presented each year during the Fête de la Science before being distributed regionally and nationally.

Prix Musée Schlumberger. Concours Têtes chercheuses. Billotron (2010), Muoscope (2015).

Schlumberger Museum Award. Researchers’ heads competition. Billotron (2010), Muoscope (2015).

Scroll to top