The Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute Visitor Centre includes many exhibits to help introduce you to the world of particle astrophysics. This field takes the most basic building blocks of the Universe, found at the smallest scales even smaller than an atom, and builds up to the largest scales like galaxy superclusters!
We recommend you begin this journey by checking out the Scale of the Universe exhibit on the iPad, to the right of the entrance. More info on this exhibit is found here: SCALE OF THE UNIVERSE.
Next, we recommend you turn back to the entrance where you will see see the Cloud Chamber, a very neat, but century old technology used for showing you some of the most standard particles of radiation. This chamber allows you to see the path of different radiation! More information on the cloud chamber can be found here: CLOUD CHAMBER.
Here we would recommend two different journeys. To learn more about the types of particles that make up you, me, and everything, please go around the panel behind the cloud chamber, to the right, and read through The Invisible Universe panel.
If instead you would like to learn more about the technologies that allow us to study particles, then turn to your right and walk to the left corner where you should see an eerie blue glow, and a small TV display. This is a Bubble Chamber, another technology that can let us see (and hear!) particles from space. The Bubble Chamber, invented in 1952 by Donald A. Glaser, is such a useful tool that it even won Dr. Glaser a Nobel Prize in 1960. More information on the bubble chamber can be found here: BUBBLE CHAMBER.
Cloud chambers and bubble chambers are just a couple examples of technology that can be used to see and study these interesting particles. By studying such particles, we learn about the most basic parts of everything. So basic we call them ‘fundamental’, because they cannot be broken down into even smaller bits! We would recommend you turn to the right and read about some more detector technologies in the From Deep Space to Deep Mines panels.
As you read through the panel, you may hear about how many of the detectors reveal particles by creating small flashes of light. But how do you collect that signal so a computer knows it saw something. If you turn back to the blue glow, next to the bubble chamber you can see a very large device. This is called a Photomultiplier Tube, and the one shown here is one of the largest used in experiments. It comes from an experiment in Japan. To find out more about photomultiplier tubes, please see this page: PHOTOMULTIPLIER TUBES.
From here we encourage you to explore. We have a TV displaying a video of the installation of the DEAP experiment at SNOLAB. More info on that can be found here: DEAP VIDEO. To the left of the main entrance we also have three more displays. One is the Gravity Box, that shows how gravity and the curve of space are related. More information on the gravity box can be found here: GRAVITY BOX. The second is a virtual reality display. More information on this display can be found here: VIRTUAL REALITY. The final one is a virtual tour of the SNOLAB facilities, where you can explore the lab and see where all the experiments are located within the lab. More information on this display can be found here: SNOLAB VIRTUAL TOUR.