This morning I got some warm water from the shower head to a dark plastic basin to wash some sensitive clothes.

During the process lots of tiny bubbles got into the water so it had a cloudy appearance.

Since the water was quite warm the air in bathroom was humid. The water was steaming. Having seen some cloud chamber videos before, I suddenly recognized horizontal thread-like patches of clouds rising from the surface.

But once the all bubbles floated up and popped and water cleared up the steaming stopped.

My hypothesis is that the tiny bubbles released lot of water wapor at the surface when they all popped making a supersaturated region for some seconds, that allowed condensation along trails. But I'm not sure.

Did I really saw particle ionization trails? Or just the turbulent air flow caused the thread-like patches of clouds?


Have you heard of the "bubble chamber"? It is like a cloud chamber, but uses liquid hydrogen (usually). When you take a liquid to a temperature/pressure where bubbles could form if there is a nucleation site, you can indeed observe traces.

Now whether you observed something like this in your bathroom is hard to estimate. Supersaturated liquids (like hot water straight from a tap) can indeed produce small bubbles, and if the conditions are just right it's conceivable that a fast particle would produce a streak. But such a streak would more likely be inside the liquid (bubbles), rather than in the vapor above it. It is possible though - if the air was sufficiently still, and there were no other nucleation sites. I have never seen it myself.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm sure I saw it in the vapor above it. $\endgroup$
    – Calmarius
    Feb 28 '15 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Calmarius it is possible then that you did see a particle trail. $\endgroup$
    – Floris
    Feb 28 '15 at 12:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.