|The spark chamber at the UB Department of Physics has been
created by Prof. Gary Nickard. It is on permanent display on the third floor of Fronczak Hall. |
A spark chamber is a device used to detect particles flying
into Earth's atmosphere from outside the galaxy, called cosmic rays. The chamber
consists of metal plates inside a sealed box that is filled with a gas such as
helium. As charged particles travel through the detector, they ionize the gas
between the plates which causes a high potential difference across the
neighboring plates to form. This creates a spark in the chamber which travels along the
path of the particle.
To take part in a self-guided
tour, dial 1-888-744-0529, then 18.
A Wimshurst machine is an electrostatic generator used to generate high voltages
using only human-generated power. Along with the plasma ball, it demonstrates the process
of ionizing a gas in order to create a spark.
Here is a link to a Flash presentation explaining the Spark Chamber. If the animation does not start, check that your security settings permit
running ActiveX controls and that you have Adobe's Flash Player installed on
your computer. If not, follow this link to install.