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Home Experiments?

  1. Apr 12, 2010 #1

    Does anyone know of any quantum physics experiments that can be preformed at home. All of the experiments I've read about seem to require expensive equipment and precise alignment. Any information would be appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2010 #2
    Double-slit interference with light is easy enough, but I don't know any easy way to see the particle behavior of light in an home-brew experiment. You could observe spectral lines from atomic transitions. And some electronic components require quantum mechanics for their operation, but it could be tough to verify that that's really how they work.
  4. Apr 12, 2010 #3
    The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the LHC website, let the pros do the work and watch for new results to ponder about. I hope they find something soon!

    The types are experiments that are fun to do at home are E&M, or chemistry, just be careful!
  5. Apr 12, 2010 #4
    google for "DIY Quantum Eraser"
  6. Apr 12, 2010 #5


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    I think (i.e. I'm hoping) you misunderstood.

    I doubt the OP is looking to break ground in the field with his experiments; I think he is simply looking to do some verification of existing knowledge for his own benefit and amusement.

    If it is the latter, then sitting around and watching others is a singularly lousy way of being involved in the sciences.
  7. Apr 13, 2010 #6
    Well if you have any ideas for at home QM experiments that don't cost billions of dollars feel free to post them.
  8. Apr 13, 2010 #7
    Yes, this is the kind of thing I was hoping for, thank you. I would really like to build a Mach–Zehnder interferometer, but I understand that it requires very precise alignment. I assume the photon detector would be very expensive. I have a background in electronics, is it possible to build a photon detector from commonly available parts?

  9. Apr 13, 2010 #8


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    Try a cloud chamber! Read about how it works, what it does, and some recipes for it, and then make your own for only the cost of dry ice.
  10. Apr 13, 2010 #9


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    There's lots of em.
  11. Jul 29, 2010 #10
    I would second the cloud chamber idea
    I have just made one - it was very easy to make, the most amazing thing to see and you get to play with dry ice as well ;)

    see: http://alanesq.com/cloud.htm

    btw - I did have trouble finding cheap dry ice - I understand ice cream companies use it and this may be the best way to get some?
  12. Jul 29, 2010 #11


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    This is not a QM experiment, but I thought it was cool.

    http://www.fourmilab.ch/gravitation/foobar/" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  13. Jul 30, 2010 #12
    I'll third the cloud chamber suggestion: there's lots of instructions on the web, it's cheap (you just need dry ice, isopropyl alcohol, and a jar with a metal lid), and you get to watch subatomic particles! You can even set off a bit of a fireworks display inside the chamber if you extract the little bit of radioactive americium from a smoke detector and stick it in there.
  14. Jul 30, 2010 #13


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    I'd really like to know berkeman's oppinion comparing legal and security aspects of this proposal to discussing home distilling of alcohol! Depending on the type of smoke detector it can contain up to several mega-Bequerel of Am (e.g. Siemens F-5 contains 2660 kBq Am-241). Based on an dose conversion coefficient of 5.70 x 10-7 Sv/Bq for ingestion and 7.00 x 10-5 for inhalation, these games can amount to receiving effective doses in the range of one Sievert. For comparison: People who are professionally exposed to radiation are not allowed to be exposed to more than 20 mSv a year.
  15. Jul 30, 2010 #14
    Well, yes, you probably shouldn't swallow it. But http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf57.html" [Broken] claims that even that is not an issue with smoke detectors, as the form of americium used is insoluble.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  16. Jul 30, 2010 #15


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    Well, even inhaling Americium oxide will do more harm to your lung than livelong smoking.
  17. Jul 30, 2010 #16


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    What would constitute a 'quantum physics experiment'?
    I mean, you can easily just get a prism and look at spectral lines at home - which is certainly a quantum-mechanical phenomenon.
  18. Jul 31, 2010 #17
    btw - can someone point me to a good explanation of what it is I am seeing in my cloud chamber?
    I seem to be finding conflicting information

    i.e. what are the different lines I see and where are they coming from
  19. Jul 31, 2010 #18
    I have seen instructions, very simple in deed, to construct an apparatus which could show the photoelectric effect. It has an electroscope as part of it. Basically what happens is: you shine some light on a metal slab and, due to photoelectric effect this metal becomes charged. And, as this slab has a thin foil of aluminium attached to it, the foil tends to increase the distance to the body of the metal slab.

    additional info:
    I haven't done it, and it is part of a science kit, commercially available. So, it may not work.
  20. Aug 1, 2010 #19
    You are seeing muon/electron interactions. Muons are a constituent of cosmic rays which bombard earth -

    a straight line which suddenly goes to the left or right is a high energy muon decaying into an electron and two neutrinos via a w boson (you only see the muon then the electron deflected at sharp angles).

    A three pronged pattern which meets in the middle is a medium energy muon being deflected off an electron, sending the electron off at the opposite angle and the zig zag patterns are low energy muons bouncing off atoms
  21. Aug 1, 2010 #20
    Simple Demo of an 'impossible' effect from a forbidden quantum transition made possible through symmetry breaking .
    Be careful.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
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