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Are cloud chambers useful?

  1. Oct 23, 2012 #1
    Do cloud chambers have any practical use in daily life? I mean, nowadays you can pretty much go and buy a Geiger counter anywhere, so are cloud chambers useful as anything more than a physics experiment these days?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2012 #2
    Well, cloud chambers tell you a lot more than a geiger counter (and are also way more fun to look at), but in terms of scientific usefulness they've been out-generationed several times.
  4. Oct 23, 2012 #3
    So an experiment discussing the effectiveness of certain types of cloud chambers over others wouldn't necessarily be a good one? I was thinking of doing this for a school project, comparing the different methods of cloud chambers (dry ice, peltier cooled, compressed air, etc.) and discussing which would be best for the average person who wants to know specifications of the radiation on the environment to get. It occurred to me that they could buy a geiger counter, or, if cloud chambers were fairly cheap to make, get one of those. Do you think such a project would still be valid, or would it be way too much of a stretch?
  5. Oct 23, 2012 #4
    No I think that would be totally valid. Especially if you throw in some scientific history.
  6. Oct 23, 2012 #5
    Thanks, that sounds great! It just sounded like a pretty interesting idea, especially after I read the section on nuclear power in Richard Muler's Physics for Presidents. It kinda got me thinking about how the public is so scared about nuclear power, and often associates a pebble bed reactor with nuclear bombs, making it difficult for new nuclear legislation to pass. I thought that if a cheap and easy cloud chamber could be made by anyone, then it'd be more likely that people would understand these things. So I guess it's kind of an engineering/physics/politics project. I'm still planning on making a cloud chamber, but it'd be pretty fun to try and relate it tosomething else.
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