The Rutherford experiment

The Rutherford experiment

The Rutherford Experiment proved the existence of positively charged atomic nuclei. The results led to the elaboration of a new atomic model.

Physics

Keywords

Rutherford experiment, Ernest Rutherford, Rutherford, scattering experiment, atomic model, electron, Thomson, nucleus, quantum physics, quantum mechanics, quantum, particle physics, particle, change of direction, detector, radiation source, experiment, Alpha particle, physicist, physics

Related items

Scenes

Laboratory

  • Rutherford's scattering experiment

The Rutherford experiment

Explanation

Particle scattering

  • nucleus

Animation

  • Joseph John Thomson
  • Nobel Prize: 1906
  • Ernest Rutherford
  • Nobel Prize: 1908

Narration

By the end of the 19th century, it had become clear that the theory of the atom’s indivisibility could not be maintained any longer. At the turn of the century, English physicist Joseph John Thomson assumed that the negatively charged electrons are embedded in a positively charged substance. Thomson referred to this as the ‘raisin pudding model,’ because he was reminded of raisins embedded in the surface of a pudding.

In Ernest Rutherford’s experiments, gold foil was bombarded with alpha particles, that is, by helium nuclei. The majority of alpha particles simply passed through the foil, while a few of them changed their direction while passing through, and some of them were reflected from the foil.

If the Thomson atomic model had been correct, all the alpha particles would have slowed down, but would have passed through the metal without any change of direction.

The outcome of his experiments is only possible if the vast majority of the weight of the gold atoms is condensed in a rather small space. Based on his results, Rutherford developed and published his atomic model in 1911, in which the electrons circulate around the positively charged nucleus. The diameter of the nucleus is about one ten-thousandth of the atom’s diameter.

Related items

Development of the atomic model

Major phases in the history of theories and views about the structure of the atom.

Elementary particles

Matter is made up by quarks and leptons, while interactions are carried by bosons.

Transparency

This animation explains transparency and opacity, the principle of radiography, and the light-absorbing properties of materials.

Atomic bombs (1945)

The atomic bomb is one of the most destructive weapons in human history.

Chain reaction

Energy released during nuclear fission can be used for civilian or military purposes.

Electron configuration of calcium

This animation shows the electron configuration of the calcium atom.

Fusion reactor

Nuclear fusion will serve as an environmentally friendly and practically unlimited source of energy.

Marie Curie's laboratory

Marie Curie, the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different sciences, is probably the most famous woman in the history of science.

Nuclear power plant

Nuclear power plants convert the energy released during nuclear fission into electric power.

Physicists who changed the world

These great scientists had a tremendous impact on the advancement in physics.

Radioactivity

The process of the decay of unstable nuclei is called radioactivity.

How does it work? - Electron microscope

This animation demonstrates the structure and operation of electron microscopes.

Added to your cart.