Students are Building the World's Largest Telescope

Chris Higgins
Vimeo / Coffee and Celluloid
Vimeo / Coffee and Celluloid / Vimeo / Coffee and Celluloid

Students around the world are building a giant telescope, but it doesn't look like what you'd imagine. Dubbed ERGO, the Energetic Ray Global Observatory, it's a distributed system of cosmic ray detectors (effectively small Geiger counters) that share data. The collectors are called "Pixels," because they are each a single point of data collection. The basic idea is to put as many of these tiny point-detection systems as possible around the world (in classrooms), both to teach students about collaborative science and to gather global data about cosmic rays.

Florida inventor Tom Bales started the project, and is looking for institutions to host ERGO "Pixels" around the world. There's even a Google Earth ERGO map showing where the 37 current Pixels are located, and each can be clicked for a recent graph of activity. While ERGO's goal of 1,000 Pixels around the world is far off, it is achievable, and actually seems startlingly simple. Here's a video explaining the project:

ERGO - What if Kids Built the World's Largest Telescope? from Coffee and Celluloid on Vimeo.

Check out the ERGO site for more information. And for a bit more evidence that this really is about students doing the work, here's a setup video featuring a high school student explaining how to plug in a new ERGO unit.