Some Vignettes from Cosmic Ray History
In the 1879 Crookes discovered that air seemed to ionize spontaneously.
With the discovery in 1896 of radioactivity by Henri Becqueral it appeared
that the mystery was solved. However a number of physicists sought a
quantitative agreement between the "spontaneous ionization" and the
radioactivity in the earth. The persistance of these physicists led to the
discovery of another source of radiation which appeared to come from the
heavens. The nature of this "cosmic radiation" involved phenomena that were
completely unknown. Coming to an understanding of the nature of this cosmic
radiation took about 40 years between 1912 and 1953. This history involves
extraordinary scientists and the invention of dramatic new detection
techniques. The story finishes with a remarkable conference organized by
Patrick Blackett and Louis Leprince-Ringuet 1953 in the Pyrenees town of
Bagneres de Bigorre.