Though easy to build, my cloud chamber has its limitations. The optical quality of most drinking glasses is poor, which can make the tracks hard to see. And reloading the device with packets of baking soda can be tedious. So despite the failure of my teenage attempts, you might want to consider other designs of this kind offered previously in the Amateur Scientist (check April and December of 1956). Prospective builders should also consider the so-called diffusion cloud chambers (described in the Amateur Scientist columns of September 1952 and June 1959), which require little more than dry ice and alcohol--isopropyl alcohol that is, not champagne.
For this project, the Society for Amateur Scientists is making available a set containing one alpha and one beta source. The cost is $35. To order, call 401-823-7800. You can write the society at 5600 Post Road, Suite 114-341, East Greenwich, RI 02818. To take part in a discussion about this project, surf over to www.sas.org and click on the "Forum" button. For information about a new CD-ROM containing past columns published in this department (over 800 in all), link to www.tinkersguild.com or call 888-875-4255.
This article was originally published with the title A Canteen Cloud Chamber.