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Open seven days a week, 10.00-18.00. Entry to the Museum is free.

CTR Wilson’s cloud chamber

CTR Wilson’s fascination with clouds helped reveal the hidden subatomic world and was responsible for some of the great finds in 20th-century physics.

One man’s fascination with clouds was about to reveal the hidden subatomic world for the first time.

broken spectre image
A Brocken spectre, the beautiful phenomenon that inspired Wilson's scientific career. © Brocken Inaglory

Inspiration in the Highlands

Sat at the summit of Scotland’s highest mountain in 1894, CTR Wilson saw some sights that stirred his scientific imagination.

Wilson was working at a weather observatory on the top of Ben Nevis. There he witnessed ‘wonderful optical phenomena’ known as a Brocken spectre – an awe-inducing effect where the sun projects your shadow onto a cloud, haloed by a rainbow of colours.

JJ Thomson and the first particle

JJ Thomson and the first particle

JJ Thomson's investigations into cathode rays lead him to be the first to discover a sub-atomic particle, the electron.

The foundation of CERN

The foundation of CERN

The birth of CERN, Europe’s particle physics laboratory, from a post-World War 2 vision to the construction of its first particle accelerator.

Videos: History of particles

Videos: History of particles

Watch our videos and find out how particles were discovered

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