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Q & A: Can you see particle accelerator collisions?

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Most recent answer: 12/01/2015
If particle accelerators had portholes, would you see anything during collision events? They're subatomic events but at the titanic energies involved, might there be a tiny spark or flash of energy. After all, cloud chambers produced visible traces from atoms and subatomic particles, right?
- Joe Murray (age 49)
Baltimore MD

Hello Joe,

Typical high energy particle collisions give out all sorts of stuff:  gamma rays, electrons, mesons, ...    The visible spectrum emanating from the collisions is rather modest.  However there are a lot of other charged  particles that come out.  These particles will then interact with your retina and cause observable flashes.   So you would see something but it will be the destruction of nerve cells in you retina.     I don't advise it. 

Detectors like bubble chambers, cloud chambers,  etc. make use of this secondary ionization in order to produce visible tracks.




(published on 12/01/2015)

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