IRRADIATE is a short film by Tracey Moberly and Paul London. It was filmed at CERN, the home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. The LHC can generate the highest energy particle collisions ever achieved by humanity, thus allowing scientists to probe new depths of particle physics - the branch of physics concerning the fundamental particles that constitute matter and radiation.
Radiation is the transfer of energy through a physical medium or empty vacuum, and can be described as being either waves or particles (wave-particle duality). The film IRRADIATE focusses on alpha and beta radiation created by different radioactive sources.
Some of the first particle detectors used by scientists were cloud chambers. These devices allow people to see the paths of charged particles with the naked eye, as they traverse and ionise a vapour medium, causing it to condense into cloud-like tracks in their wake. The cloud chamber tracks in IRRADIATE were filmed at CERN, and are actual particle interactions occurring in real time; they show the trajectories of the charged particles released into the medium from radioactive sources, as well as naturally occurring background radiation from the Earth, with perhaps a cosmic ray or two coming from outer space. The alpha particles can be identified by their thick, shorter tracks, whilst the beta particles (electrons) have thinner, longer tracks.
Alpha radiation sources: Radon-220, Americium-241 Beta radiation source: Strontium-90
– Tracey Moberly and Paul London (KIK FILMS)