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A Diffusion Cloud Chamber for Viewing Alpha Tracks

By James F. Burkhart

Abstract

Although radon professionals are frequently asked to explain the health hazards caused by the inhalation of radon decay products and the subsequent impact of alpha particles on delicate lung tissues, very few radon testers and/or mitigators have actually "seen " an alpha particle. One of the time honored methods of viewing alpha particles in motion is to insert an alpha radiation source into a diffusion cloud chamber and to watch the tracks made by the alpha particles in real time as they traverse a cloud made by a supersaturated solution of methyl alcohol in air. Commercial cloud chambers are costly ($500.00 and up). Most home-built cloud chambers are not dependable in that they often do not work even when everything is done correctly (see inexpensive cloud chambers of this type in AAPT, 1972). What the author presents is a simplified diffusion cloud chamber that can be made for under $25.00 and is dependable. Also, inexpensive, non-licensable alpha sources are suggested. Cloud Chamber Theory First invented by C.T.R. Wilson (1) in 1911, the cloud chamber found a useful place in nuclear physics very soon after. Wilson himself photographed alpha particle tracks i

Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.371.9198
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