One day back in November 2013, Whiteson says, he and Mulhearn were visiting a local watering hole in Geneva. “We were having beers and thinking [about] what could we do that’s smaller scale, that we can handle ourselves. And while we were chatting,” he says, “we were, of course, fiddling with our smart phones, and that’s when we realized, ‘Hold on a second, these smart phones can actually be used as particle detectors!’ ”
That’s because smart phones use something called a CMOSchip inside their cameras. That’s the same kind of chip that’s used to detect particles generated by the Large Hadron Collider.