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How to build your own particle detector (2015) (symmetrymagazine.org)
74 points by gus_massa on May 23, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments

I literally just built one of these with my son on Saturday and I'm almost certain we used this exact article as a guide (along with a video we found on youtube).

(As an aside, "Quantum Physics for Dummies" is surprisingly readable and concise)

TIPS: If your fishtank lid is especially cheap, the dry ice may crack it. Also, make sure you place the tank in a room that you can make completely dark - trying to move the thing to a darker room destroys the trails :)

Adding a radioactive check-source, like a thorium welding rod, may produce some interesting results. ;)

We had a chunk of old-school Fiestaware for demos in the physics department; lots of short-range clouds boiling off the surface in the cloud chamber. Glazed with natural uranium oxide... o_O

It's crazy to think about how many radioactive sources we come into contact on a day-to-day basis. I mean, thorium toothpaste was a thing.


People often bring up bananas as everyday radioactive objects. Would they even show up if you hold one next to the tank?

I've a cheap Geiger that can detect alpha, beta, and gamma. Bananas do nothing that my detector can measure.

From https://xkcd.com/radiation/

* Eating a banana: 0.1 µSv

* Background daily dose: 10 µSv

The calculation is probably more complicated, but as a back of the envelope estimation I expect that a banana increase the background radiation in a 1%: So it will be difficult to measure with a cheap equipment just counting the number of detections.

[If your device can measure the energy of the particles, perhaps you can see some peak?]

[If you log all the event for a day, with and without a banana, perhaps the 1% difference is statistically significant.]

I think you'd have better luck with potassium salt, but trying different things out is the fun part.

I'm curious -- what kind of interesting results should we be on the lookout for?

I gotta admit that is pretty dang cool. Thanks for the video!

np. Nuclear science is pretty cool.

This is amazing. I've never heard of this technique and I'm excited I can try this in my kitchen. (Though it could end up being a very expensive hobby...)

This is what I expected to see from the article posted the other day linking to http://www.build-your-own-particle-detector.org !

Interesting article.

I found this youtube video showing a similar setup in action:


Nice and interesting. but i think it have much more potential.

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