Particles traveling in curved lines?

In summary, electrons, protons, and ions spiral due to the influence of magnetic fields, which can be manipulated in particle accelerators to accelerate and control particles. This explains the spiral patterns seen in photos from the LHC. Other particles, such as ultra fast particles from outer space, also follow spiral paths due to Earth's magnetic field. Neutral particles, however, are not affected by electromagnetic fields and will continue in a straight line until they collide with something. This is why they are particularly dangerous and require significant shielding.
  • #1
Jarfi
384
12
My chem/physics teacher said that electrons don't travel in a straight direction, he said something about them traveling in random or spiral directions. So I was wondering ofcourse all the photos from the LHC show spirals, so that must be the traces of particles created by the collision. Do all particles travel like this? or just electrons, do they travel in a random direction? and is there an answer to why they travel like this? but not straight.
 
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  • #2
Electrons spiral because of magnetic fields, they manipulate E&M fields in particle accelerators to accelerate them and keep them 'trapped' so to speak.

Don't know much about the other particles though.
 
  • #3
Jarfi said:
My chem/physics teacher said that electrons don't travel in a straight direction, he said something about them traveling in random or spiral directions. So I was wondering ofcourse all the photos from the LHC show spirals, so that must be the traces of particles created by the collision. Do all particles travel like this? or just electrons, do they travel in a random direction? and is there an answer to why they travel like this? but not straight.

Any charge (elecgtron, proton, ion) moving through a magnetic field will experience a force that is at right angles to its motion and in a direction that depends on the magnetic field vector. This will produce a spiral motion (or circular if the charge is moving at right angles to the field). I would not have called it "random" motion because it is determined by the conditions but, as they may not be known accurately then the motion may be hard to predict. They spiral left or right, depending on the sign of the charge and the radius of the spiral depends on their mass and strength of field.

Ultra fast particles from outer space tend to spiral around the Earth's magnetic field lines. This helps to protect us from their effects because they follow much longer paths than if they were coming in 'direct' as they collide with many more air molecules and lose most of their energy before they get to the ground. (Useful)

Neutral particles are not affected by electromagnetic fields and tend to just plough on until they actually hit something. Neutrons go straight through atoms, even, unless they find the nucleus - which is why they are so dangerous; you need a lot of screening to be safe from them.
 

1. How do particles travel in curved lines?

Particles can travel in curved lines due to forces acting on them. These forces can include electric and magnetic fields, as well as gravity. Depending on the strength and direction of these forces, particles may follow a curved path instead of a straight line.

2. What is the difference between a straight path and a curved path for particles?

A straight path for particles indicates that there are no external forces acting on them, and they will continue moving in the same direction at a constant speed. A curved path, on the other hand, suggests that there are forces present that are causing the particles to change direction and/or speed.

3. How do scientists study particles traveling in curved lines?

Scientists use various tools and techniques, such as particle accelerators and detectors, to study particles traveling in curved lines. They can also use computer simulations and mathematical models to understand the behavior of particles in different conditions.

4. Can particles travel in curved lines in a vacuum?

Yes, particles can travel in curved lines in a vacuum. In fact, this is often how scientists study particles in particle accelerators, where a vacuum is necessary to prevent interference from air molecules.

5. What applications do curved particle paths have in real life?

Curved particle paths have many applications in real life, such as in medical imaging equipment like MRI machines, where particles are directed in a curved path to produce images of the body's internal structures. They are also used in particle accelerators to study the fundamental building blocks of matter and in space exploration to understand the effects of gravity on particles.

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