Friday, February 13, 2009

Sight and Quote

Today I saw a homeless man standing on the steps of the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

He was surrounded by pigeons, and they were perching on his hands and shoulders.

There was traffic, pedestrians and business as usual. But for that moment; he was their center.

"When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen:
Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly. "
~ Edward Teller

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cloudy Daze

Good evening everyone.

My goodness it has been a long time since I have been online…

Anyway, being this blog is called ‘The Mad Scientist’, one would expect more science stuff right?

Well here you go:

This is what I have been up to the past couple of weeks. Not just this project, but this one is the most interesting thing that has come out of it. The rest is the usual pen & paper math, spreadsheet programming and reading, reading… reading.

So here is the cool stuff. I made a Cloud Chamber.

What it does, and how it works:

You will need an airtight glass chamber, a sponge to attach on the upper end of the container, and soak it in alcohol (I used Everclear- it’s cheap and really concentrated). You will also need a tin filled with dry ice, a flashlight, a small piece of paper towel, and last but not least: a radio active “source”. We used a needle dipped in a chemical that had a bit of radioactive stuff in it, I think it was Uranium, but I’m not sure. At the time, I did not care either. I just needed some Advil.

Anyways, you put the source in the chamber bottom, and the alcohol soaked sponge side on the top, and set it on top of the dry ice. The small piece of paper towel goes between them for traction.

Once the alcohol evaporates from the spounge, it condenses at the cold bottom, and it is thick enough, that when the source decays (here we had alpha particles (a helium nucleus)), it leaves little trails in the gas! When you shine the flashlight on it, it looks like little hairs standing straight up! Observe:

Do you see them? The little straight lines shooting out from the tip if the needle like fireworks?