Science: From Way Out

At Volcano Ranch, 20 miles west of Albuquerque, a group of 19 small, coop-like structures covers a grassy, mile-wide plain. Inside each coop are four disks, each one meter across and wrapped in black plastic. From the disks, cables run to a central building crammed with oscilloscopes and other delicate gear. Last week the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, institutional proprietor of all this apparatus, announced that it has detected a cosmic ray (high-speed particle) that came to the earth from a foreign galaxy millions of light years away in the far depths of space. This was eye-opening scientific news.

Cosmic rays have...

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