If you’re an avid member of the science community on tumblr (and online in general) like me, you’ll know you’ve seen pictures like this before. But if you’re also lazy like me, you’ll never have had enough energy to figure it out (Wikipedia? But my mouse is all the way over here).
Well, this is an image captured from something called a bubble chamber.
- It works by having a solution of neon and hydrogen in a 2:1 ratio. The solution is compressed and then decompressed, which makes it superheated.
- A beam of charged particles is sent through the solution, with cameras at the ready. The particle’s energy is transferred to the solution by ionizing the liquid and turning it into a gas. This is where the bubbles come from. A flash photograph is taken once bubbles have grown to about 1mm.
- The crazy patterns come from the charged particles interacting with the atoms in the solution. The interactions are what scientists are mainly interested in - these pictures have helped physicists discover W and Z bosons, and may help further with the detection of WIMPs.
That wasn’t too bad. Maybe I should stop being such a sloth.
There’s a lot more to them, but that’s the basic gist of them. If you want to learn more, go here! Science on!