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Very light par­ti­cles such as elec­trons and positrons change di­rec­tion when they col­lide with air mol­e­cules, so their traces zigzag. The slightly heav­ier muons do not give way, leav­ing long, straight traces. Al­pha par­ti­cles are heav­ier, but less high-en­ergy, so they leave short, thick traces. Some par­ti­cles de­cay, and so, their traces branch out.

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