Saturday, May 1, 2010

Building a working cloud chamber, part 4.

Sigh...the end of the semester cannot come soon enough for me.

Homework piles upon presentation upon paper...great undulating waves of responsibility threatening to swamp me. Thankfully, I gave my presentation for Partial Differential Equations today, and it went off fine (pretty good, considering I finished assembling it an hour before and practiced not at all). Now only a few assignments remain before a breather next weekend in preparation for the four finals I have the week after that.

One of those assignments is the presenting of our cloud chamber experiment on Tuesday for our last Modern Physics class. Today we ran our cloud chamber experiment for the 4th time, with, unfortunately, depressingly null results. We we quite confident of seeing something this time, especially since one of the professors graciously loaned us a sample of uranium to use as a particle source (I've never gotten to hold real uranium before!). We got a cloud just fine, but were unable to register more than a few, questionable, tracks. We decided to flip the assembly upside down again, in order to get a less turbulent cloud, which worked, somewhat. We were able to get a cloud....it was just very thin, and didn't really show trails.  So...I think the fact that we have the setup right means we'll do fine as far as grading goes (this experiment is 15% of our grade, if I remember correctly), but it's slightly disappointing not to have been able to get irrefutable particle tracks.

Anyway, yesterday I discovered by accident that Google has finally updated the satellite imagery of my home in California (after only, what, 5 or 6 years?). In fact, I was able to see the very hut I built for my ducks a year ago. It was slightly surreal, and left me dumbfounded that something I built with my own hands could be visible FROM SPACE (to be fair, I didn't build it by myself [Dad deserves a fair share of credit], but it was my idea and pet project).

Thankfully I remain in good health overall, just harried by assignments nipping at my heels as the semester draws to a close. I don't know how much I'll be able to write in the next two weeks, but I'll try to post a short something or other to keep you all informed of how I'm doing.

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