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Werner Heisenberg and the theory of high energy particles


Clearing the cloud chambers
Bernard Lovell Astronomer
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So I had a line of Geiger counters about the cloud chamber, so that the expansion process was initiated only with a single particle going through the Geiger counters and entering the chamber. The mechanism was marvellous. It had been devised by Blackett and as soon as the expansion took place, then this mechanism would clear the chamber and make it ready again for the next expansion. I had the recording was done on an endless strip of film, which I wound round a great frame and then went to the dark room and impatiently looked at it before it was fixed, to see if there were any particles on it. I then in this basement room in the... what was then the new physics building, measured the... I projected the results both of the incoming particle and the outgoing cascade of electrons onto a screen, measuring the curvature and thereby derived the energy from which a single particle would... of the single particle and of the energy of the emerging electrons and positrons. My paper on that, I think, was published on... I think it was called Shower Production by Penetrating... by Energetic Penetrating Particles, and I doubt, I think, other things had happened and I was occupied with something entirely different when that paper was published, I think, in 1940.

Bernard Lovell (1913-2012), British radio astronomer and founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, received an OBE in 1946 for his work on radar, and was knighted in 1961 for his contribution to the development of radio astronomy. He obtained a PhD in 1936 at the University of Bristol. His steerable radio telescope, which tracked Sputnik across the sky, is now named the Lovell telescope.

Listeners: Alastair Gunn Megan Argo

Alastair Gunn is an astrophysicist at Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester. He is responsible for the coordination and execution of international radio astronomical observations at the institute and his professional research concerns the extended atmospheres of highly active binary stars. Alastair has a deep interest and knowledge of the history of radio astronomy in general and of Jodrell Bank in particular. He has written extensively about Jodrell Bank's history.

Megan Argo is an astronomer at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory researching supernovae and star formation in nearby starburst galaxies. As well as research, she is involved with events in the Observatory's Visitor Centre explaining both astronomy and the history of the Observatory to the public.

Tags: Geiger counter, Shower Production by Energetic Penetrating Particles, Patrick Blackett

Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2007

Date story went live: 05 September 2008