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Rutherford's gold foil experiment

K003/3970

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Credit

EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Gold foil experiment. Animation depicting the expected outcome of Rutherford's 1909 experiment to probe the structure of an atom. At left, a source of alpha radiation is firing alpha particles (helium nuclei) at a thin sheet of gold foil (down centre). Most of the alpha particles pass straight through the foil, as was expected, with only minor deviations. The inset shows a close-up of a gold atom according to the prevailing 'plum pudding' model, in which negatively charged electrons (blue) are studded in a diffuse cloud of positive charge (red). This relatively diffuse atom would not be able to deflect a large alpha particle. However, this was not what was observed. For a clip showing the actual result, which led to the discovery of the atomic nucleus, see K003 3969.

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Downloadable Master

  • Duration: 00:00:20.01
  • Audio: No
  • Format: Photo JPEG 100% QuickTime movie

Original

  • Capture Format: QuickTime Animation

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