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Identifying trails in a Cloud Chamber

  1. Mar 12, 2013 #1
    I was thinking of making a cloud chamber and have looked at several videos on them. I noticed several different types of trails and was wondering if anyone can identify which particles they belong to i.e. alpha, beta, muon. I'm am particularly interested in Muons and I won't be using any radioactive materials so background radiation is the only thing I need to be worried about. If it helps you can refer to this video .

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2013 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Tracks are identified by deduction ... you know the basic properties of the different particles after all, so you can predict how they should behave in your device.

    The curve of the track tells you the charge and gives clues about the energy.
    The length of the tracks provide clues about the lifetime.
    The way the tracks branch when a particle decays also gives clues about what decayed into what.

    You also take steps to restrict what sort of particles you are likely to see.
  4. Mar 13, 2013 #3


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    As a rule of thumb:
    thick, short tracks: alpha
    thin tracks with curves or corners: electrons
    thin tracks without curves and corners: muons

    This needs a significant magnetic field.
    Without a particle accelerator, most tracks should come from stable (or long-living, in case of muons) particles.
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