Donald Glaser and the Bubble Chamber

Resources with Additional Information

Donald Glaser
Courtesy of and ©The University of
California, Berkeley

The 1960 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Donald Glaser for his invention of the bubble chamber. "Glaser first conceived of the bubble chamber in 1952, at the age of 25, while a faculty member at the University of Michigan. According to scientific lore, Glaser was enjoying a cold beer when he observed the stream of bubbles in his brew. It was a moment of saloon science that inspired a tool second only in importance to the cyclotron for atomic physicists.

The first bubble chamber, no bigger than its inventor's thumb, contained a clear, super-heated liquid in the path of charged atomic particles accelerated by an atom smasher. As the particles pushed through the liquid, they created a trail of tiny bubbles that could be photographed through the window of the chamber. Analyzing the bubbles provides physicists with insight about the particles and related forces. ...

After consulting during the summers at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Glaser joined the University of California faculty in 1959. Five years later, he became a professor of physics and molecular biology at the university. Now a Professor of the Graduate School, Glaser's research has shifted to the construction of computational models that shed light on the physics and physiology of human perception."

- Edited excerpt from: 1960: Donald Glaser and His Bubble Chamber, ScienceMatters@Berkeley, Vol. 1, Issue 6

Resources with Additional Information

Additional information about Donald Glaser and his research is available in full text and on the Web.


Some Effects of Ionizing Radiation on the Formation of Bubbles in Liquids Physical Review, Vol. 87, Issue 4, 665, August 15, 1952

Characteristics of Bubble Chambers Physical Review, Vol. 97, Issue 2, 474-479, January 15, 1955

Bubble Counting for the Determination of the Velocities of Charged Particles in Bubble Chambers Physical Review, Vol. 102, Issue 6, 1653-1658, June 15, 1956

Methods of Particle Detection for High-energy Physics Experiments DOE Technical Report, October 1958

On the Analysis of Bubble Chamber Tracks DOE Technical Report, October 1958


Additional Web Pages:

Nobel Laureates, Donald A. Glaser

What is particle physics?: the Bubble Chamber - High School Teachers at CERN

Donald Glaser (1926 -  )

Physics Nobelist and Biotech Pioneer Donald Glaser …

Donald A. Glaser, Ph.D.; The Bubble Chamber, … Neurobiology (an interview) -- accepting agreement results in receiving the document

Invention and History of the Bubble Chamber  (video), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

Interview with Donald Glaser,, June 2000 (video)

Interview with Donald A. Glaser,, August 2008 (video)


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