Episode 30: Subtle Pursuits with Gareth L Powell

particles moving through a cloud chamber leave trails!

Think of particle physics. It’s a rather popular field… and yet, It is concerned with objects which are too small to touch and too small to see. So. How is it done?

The answer is particle detectors: special machines we’ve built which allow us to amplify the effect of a particle on the world around it.

This show, we’re introducing a bunch of different particle detectors, from Geiger counters, to cloud and bubble chambers, to scintillators and CCD’s. We even talk about Photomultipliers and the tragedy at Super K.

This is what the inside of the Super Kamiokande Detector looks like. each ball is a photomultiplier. also, dudes in a canoe.

We wrap it up with a description of the ATLAS detector at CERN. Life is really fun, and this is one of the best shows we have recorded to date. WOOOOOOO!

This week’s guest is Gareth L. Powell, author of the Hit novel Ack-Ack Macaque, which is a story about a hard-boiled monkey who shoots people with his guns, and gets in monkey knife-fights, and there are other characters but there needn’t be. The monkey also flies a fighter jet. And he smokes a Cigar. And he is on twitter. 

Physicists: Tia Miceli, Ken Clark

Intro Music: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists 

Exit Music: John Vanderslice 

Transcript: Ep_30_Subtle_Pursuits

One thought on “Episode 30: Subtle Pursuits with Gareth L Powell

  1. Brian Green had a brilliant analogy for how particle collision detectors work in “The Elegant Universe.

    Basically, the lights are out in the room and there is a peach pit. You don’t know what the object looks like, and you are asked to identify it by firing BBs at it. You can then plot the trajectory of BBs. Larger BBs will tell you that it’s a roughly circular object, but the smaller the BBs, the more detail comes in to focus, like the wrinkles and troughs of the pit.

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