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A spark chamber in operation at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory outside Geneva, in 1969. Sparks (red) are seen forming along the tracks of charged subatomic particles that have traversed the detector. A spark chamber consists of parallel sheets of metal separated by a few millimetres & immersed in an inert gas such as neon. A charged particle traversing the chamber leaves an ionized trail in the gas, & sparks form along this trail when a high voltage is applied to alternate sheets of the chamber. Spark chambers were developed at CERN in the 1960s & were standard parts of electronic particle detectors for at least a decade.
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