QuarkNet 2010: Day 1

I'm participating in QuarkNet 2010 this week at Stony Brook University. QuarkNet is a workshop they have been running since 1999 (I think) for high school physics and chemistry teacher, and pre-service teacher as well. This year each participant is building a cloud chamber which we'll use to measure the momentum of cosmic rays.

I took class at Stony Brook while I was a grad student there with the same professor who is running this workshop, Helio Takai, and in that class we were working to improve a previous cloud chamber design. It was a really fun class (for which there were no assignments or homework) but there was only one cloud chamber. In this workshop we are each building one, and we get to bring them back to our schools for demonstrations next year.

Here's the basics about how the cloud chamber works:

A metal plate is placed above a styrofoam cooler filled with dry ice and alcohol. Metal feet/legs extend down from the plate into the solution to conduct heat out of the plate. On top of the plate is an upside down fish tank, with a reservoir of alcohol in the top of it. There is a temperature gradient between the cold metal plate and the top of the fish tank at room temperature, which causes the alcohol to evaporate and then condense in a layer about an inch think at the plate.

This "cloud" is supersaturated, and when cosmic rays (electrons, positrons, protons) pass through the fog you can see their trail. A magnet is added under the metal plate to create a magnetic field, which affects the path of the charged particles that pass through the cloud. By filming the cloud chamber in operation for a while we will be able to extract frames during which an interesting event happened and calculate the momentum of the particle.

Yesterday was the first day of the workshop, and there were two main activities: (1) Learn how to edit/publish movies, and (2) build the ice box and assemble plate/legs.

I took a quick video of the room with my new Kodak Zi8 digital camcorder, and quickly cut it up and added titles and sound effects in iMovie. Here's the result:

I know, I know...totally lame. Here's the ice box:

And the plate:

Look for more updates as the week progresses.

1 comment:

-blessed holy socks, the non-perishable-zealot said...

Grrr. Git some followers, dude. God bless you.

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