Illustration of Cherenkov radiation

1934 Cherenkov radiation

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Pavel Cherenkov, Sergey Ivanovich Vavilov, Igor Tamm, Pavel Frank physics Illustration of Cherenkov radiation

Cherenkov radiation

When charged particles, high energy electrons, shoot through an insulating dialectric liquid faster than light can travel in that liquid, the particles, disrupting the local electromagnetic field of the liquid, polarizes the liquid and creates a shock wave that radiates in the ultraviolet spectrum, which to human eyes glows blue.

Cherenkov mediums

Oliver Heaviside had predicted it. Pavel Cherenkov and Sergey Ivanovich Vavilov were the first to observe it. Igor Tamm and Ilya Frank explained it according to special relativity. * In the pools of water surrounding nuclear reactors, in Earth’s atmosphere ringing with cosmic rays, in the vitreous humour of the eye zapped by charged particles. Yikes!


Almost past perception, through the world extreme rays shoot, leaving an unworldly glow. Some may think they know the world, and others are only suffering a delusion. Give me a minute to put aside my distant regard. Humility is a good basis of sympathy for others.

Nothing travels faster than light in a vacuum; however, light slows down in a solid or liquid, which is why energetic electrons can travel faster.

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