By Maggie Koerth-Baker at 8:15 am Mon, Jan 28, 2013
Cloud chambers are cool in an old school, dirt-simple use of basic physics kind of way. The goal is to create a gas cooled below its condensation temperature that is metastable due to its dilute nature. Ionizing radiation passing through the gas provides the activation necessary to accelerate the condensation, and a “vapor” trail appears that is clearly visible to the eye when illuminated with a bright light source. Clever, simple, and it works. I have been wanting to build one for a while, but I am supposed to publish papers or something…
Do it for the children.
Where are these children that you speak of?
in the cloud chamber
The one I haven’t built, or the one I am going to build?
Yes. Like Schroedinger’s cat, they’re everywhere.
Speaking of children, this photo stream I encountered through the nytimes has restored my faith in humanity and in the existence of children.
If you don’t have kids of your own, borrow some from a friend. Be the neat “uncle” who tempts them with Mad Science and Science Fiction.
My own humble contribution (from a long time ago!) to this category: http://allenbukoff.com/ScienceFair/CloudChamber1966.html
In the past I have several times taught a boy scout merit badge (in Nuclear) session. (I am a grad student in nuclear engineering.) We have repeatedly tried to create a cloud chamber using a similar, yet slightly different, approach, and it never REALLY worked.
Every time I bring up this topic to Physics grad students they laugh me off, telling me to give up.
I’ll have to try this approach! Perhaps it will work better.
this is what i built for my 5th grade science project. my dad always got really big ideas then made me build them through much tears. it did work though, and i didnt even win first place :(
I made one like this. it’s fun, and it works nicely.
This project was in the World Book Encyclopedia when I was 10.
cloud chamber instruction Kids make physics Project Science
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