Burning Man 2022 Proposal: Invisible Light

The Current State of the Pavilion, as Proposed

Well, we got the grant in with 27-minutes to spare, perhaps a new personal record! The above is the Front Elevation of the proposed structure that will surround and protect Spark Chamber and also dim the ambient light so that the Cosmic Ray tracks will be visible during the day as well as in the dark, relatively on the Playa, of the night, Below is a drone’s-eye Plan view of the Pavilion.

What the terrified parachutist sees on their way down,

We are building an observatory to enable participants to see the paths of Cosmic Rays as they pass through the atmosphere. The technical term is a spark chamber. The intention here is to make visible part of the Universe that we are immersed in, but cannot otherwise see or experience, directly.

Half-scale mock-up of spiral base and Spark Chamber. The spirals represent inter-the Galactic magnetic fields that bend the paths of Cosmic Rays.

We are looking at the beauty of pure science by bringing to light things that are rarely seen outside of a research laboratory. Accompanying the instrument will be explanatory works intended to provide some idea of the invisible worlds all around us. Our intention is to provide both something awe-inspiring & beautiful to look at with an educational component that leads to a deeper interest on the part of participants in the unseen worlds & unimaginable scales of our Universe.

We have 2 goals: first & foremost we are bringing an invisible aspect of the world to light, one which affects everything yet w/out science we would know nothing about it. We will make visible the tracks of cosmic rays as they pass through the atmosphere, & by extension through you at the rate of approx. 1/cm^2/min. These unseen particles have been implicated in such diverse mechanisms as the source of the conductive path to ground of lightning & genetic mutations through damage to DNA.

Existing Spark Chamber from 2014’s Cosmic Praise

The other exploration is using architecture to represent the purpose of a structure without having a social context to hang it on, eg, in most US cities you can easily pick out certain types of buildings: post office, church, RR station, library, etc. Most of this is through experience & exposure, but some bldgs. do more to telegraph their function, eg, a fire station has many large doors & a tower. Can we make the exterior shell of our structure give an indication of the astro-physical purpose inside?