COOL IMAGES: Bubbling Along

Science  24 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5461, pp. 2111
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5461.2111a

Subatomic particles trace delicate curlicues inside a bubble chamber, a type of detector invented in the 1950s that enabled particle physicists to track their quarry. Charged particles zipping through superheated liquid hydrogen and neon in the chamber leave visible traces of tiny bubbles; a strong magnetic field causes negatively and positively charged particles to curl in opposite directions. Snapped in the 1980s at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, the image appears on Particle Physics in the United Kingdom's, Picture of the Week page, which since 1997 has stacked up an eclectic archive of images from particle physics experiments past and present. Visitors can gawk at the guts of powerful particle detectors and accelerators, read about famous physicists, and check out the latest “event displays”—computerized color images of particle tracks that are today's equivalent of bubble chamber pictures.

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