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The cloud chamber, also known as the Wilson chamber, is used for detecting particles of ionizing radiation. In its most basic form, a cloud chamber is a sealed environment containing a supercooled, supersaturated water or alcohol vapor. When an alpha particle or beta particle interacts with the mixture, it ionizes it. The resulting ions act as condensation nuclei, around which a mist will form (because the mixture is on the point of condensation). The high energies of alpha and beta particles mean that a trail is left, due to many ions being produced along the path of the charged particle. These tracks have distinctive shapes (for example, an alpha particle's track is broad and straight, while an electron's is thinner and shows more evidence of deflection by collisions). When any uniform magnetic field is applied across the cloud chamber, positively and negatively charged particles will curve in opposite directions, according to the Lorentz force law with two particles of opposite charge. For more detailed track-shape information, see bubble chamber.
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