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cosmic ray

noun, Physics.
a radiation of high penetrating power that originates in outer space and consists partly of high-energy atomic nuclei.
Origin of cosmic ray
An Americanism dating back to 1920-25 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cosmic rays
Historical Examples
  • They had molecular rays, cosmic rays, the energy of matter, then—what else had they now?

    Invaders from the Infinite John Wood Campbell
  • Now, our process is only an adaptation of these cosmic rays.

  • The Ancient Mariner spun about, turned toward the other ship, and let loose a tremendous bombardment of molecular and cosmic rays.

    Invaders from the Infinite John Wood Campbell
  • Of course, if it is coming from outside the stratosphere as the cosmic rays do, there is no hope.

    The End of Time Wallace West
  • It was amazingly sensitive to any form of radioactivity—and the missile, of course, would be "hot" from exposure to cosmic rays.

  • And he screamed into the now fading glow that he knew was the energy of the cosmic rays.

    The Monster S. M. Tenneshaw
  • They know about our theoretical work on cosmic rays, including Suzanne's work up to about a month ago.

    The Mercenaries Henry Beam Piper
  • Suppose this is what happens when living tissue is exposed to cosmic rays or whatever is up there.

    The Day of the Dog Anderson Horne
  • He was remembering the man's words on the cosmic rays and the secret of eternal life they held.

    The Monster S. M. Tenneshaw
  • It has molecular rays, magnetic beams and cosmic rays, and a fourth weapon we know nothing of.

    Invaders from the Infinite John Wood Campbell
British Dictionary definitions for cosmic rays

cosmic rays

plural noun
radiation consisting of particles, esp protons, of very high energy that reach the earth from outer space Also called cosmic radiation
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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cosmic rays in Science
cosmic ray  
A ray of radiation of extraterrestrial origin, consisting of one or more charged particles such as protons, alpha particles, and larger atomic nuclei. Cosmic rays entering the atmosphere collide with atoms, producing secondary radiation, such as pions, muons, electrons, and gamma rays. Cosmic rays (and secondary radiation) can be easily seen in a cloud chamber.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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cosmic rays in Culture

cosmic rays definition

Elementary particles, mainly protons, that are produced by the sun and other stars and then strike the upper atmosphere of the Earth. Some of these particles are absorbed, some help form the Van Allen belt, and some reach the Earth's surface, where they form a part of the background radiation that constantly surrounds us.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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