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Rutherford’s Alpha-Particle Scattering Experiment

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Rutherford's Alpha-Particle Scattering Experiment Early Views of the Atom i. Around 400 BC a Greek scientist called Democritus said that matter was made up of small particles he named 'Atoma' (meaning indivisible). ii. In 1804 John Dalton stated that matter consisted of tiny solid balls he called 'Atoms'. Backdrop of Rutherford's Experiment At the turn of the century, there was little known about atoms except that they contained electrons. J. J. Thompson discovered the electron in 1897, and there was considerable speculation about where these negatively charged particles existed in nature. Matter is electrically neutral; some positive charge must balance the charge of the electron. These was what the scientist thought at that time. One popular theory of the time was called the 'plum-pudding model'. This model, invented by Thompson, envisioned matter made of atoms that were spheres of positive charge spiked with electrons throughout. ...read more.


The vast majority of the alpha particles are deflected very little as they travel through the foil; 2. A tiny minority are deflected through large angles or rebounded. Conclusions Through these results, they drew some imagination: 1. The nucleus is so small that the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of a given alpha particle motoring right on through the gold foil as if nothing were there. It turns out that the atom is a very empty place. 2. Some alphas, by pure random chance, will pass near some gold atom nuclei during their passage through the foil and will be slightly deflected. By pure chance, some or all of the small deflections will add up and shove the alpha particle off a straight-line path. Those alphas will emerge slightly deviated (say one or two degrees) from a straight-line path. 3. A very, very few alphas, by pure, random chance, will hit a nucleus almost head-on. ...read more.


The diameter of a gold atom is about 0.3�10-9m (=0.3nm). The nucleons are made up of quarks, and have a radius of about 0.8 fm (0.8 ? 10-15) in diameter. If an atom were the size of a football stadium, with the electrons out around the upper deck, the nucleus down at midfield would be smaller than the coin flipped at the start of the game. If the nucleus were represented in a model by a pea (which had a length of 5-7mm): Let the diameter of a pea is 6mm. The diameter of the atomic model is 6 � 105 mm = 600 m The volume of the atomic model is 3003 � 3/4 � ? � 400m � 400m � 400m Therefore, the atomic model should be a sphere which has a radius of 300m, or a cube which has each side of 400m. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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