Making Music With Radiation

[Jeff Keyser] from got a chance to show off this interesting take on ambient music. He’s using his geiger counter kit to detect beta and gamma radiation. This then sends a pulse down the line to an Arduino to turn it into a musical note. The geiger counters put out a 3v pulse though, so he first has to run this through a 74Ls04, which spits out the 5V the arduino wants. He’s admittedly no musician, but you can hear in the video it sounds fine. Especially considering they are all just C in different octaves. Those of us that are musicians probably would have gone with a B#.

The ambient noise is interesting, but when you realize it is due to radioactive decay, it becomes somehow more attention getting. We often forget about the invisible world around us. He even drops a few Uranium marbles onto the geiger counters to spice things up.

11 thoughts on “Making Music With Radiation

    1. Uranium marbles are still made, I heard somewhere. “Plain” uranium glass is widely available in antique shops and on eBay. I just searched on marbles on eBay, tons of them available :)

      That plate likely is fiestaware, and on top of it are thorium containing gas mantles.

      This idea of geiger counter triggered chimes is nice but could be made more sophisticated. Some ideas I have now:

      – Nuclear wind chime, trigger different samples with each event, similar to a normal wind chime.
      – Sound gamma spectrometer, trigger sounds based on pulses coming out of a scintillation detector

      The possibilities are endless…

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