Ernest Rutherford - Atomic Theory

Background Information

- Born in 1871 in New Zealand

- Died in 1937 in England

- Was one of twelve children

- Enjoyed hard work.

- Was a great student and had a university scholarship at the University of Canterbury.

- Following this, he received another scholarship to Cambridge University.

Background Information

- At Cambridge, he met JJ Thompson, who encouraged Rutherford to study recently-discovered x-rays.

- Thus, Rutherford began his long and influential career in atomic physics.

- Taught future physics majors such as Niels Bohr and James Chadwick.

Experimental Information

- Discovered that all known radioactive elements emit two kinds of radiation; positively and negatively charged, otherwise known as alpha and beta.

More Experimental Information

- He then showed that every radioactive element decreases in radioactivity over a unique and regular time, or half-life, ultimately becoming stable.

Experimental Information

- In 1901, and 1902, he worked with Frederick Soddy to prove that atoms of one radioactive element would spontaneously turn into another, by expelling a piece of the atom at high velocity.

- Many scientists of the day scorned the idea as alchemy.

Experimental Information 

- The experiment he is most famous for involves testing the Plum Pudding Model.

- A beam of alpha particles was aimed at very thin gold foil and their passage through the foil detected.

Experimental Information

- Scientists expected the particles to pass through the foil.

- That indeed did happen, but something else had occurred as well. 

- About 2 particles seemed to have reflected off the foil almost at a backwards angle.

Experimental Information

- The particles reflected off of the foil only because the scientists believed that they hit the nucleus, causing them to theorize that most of an atom is empty.

In Summary...

- Rutherford is known as the father of nuclear physics.

- Famous Quote "All science is either physics or stamp collecting".

- Ernest designed the original atom model, which is known as The Rutherford Model.

- Is known for the Gold Foil Experiment.
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Ernest Rutherford

by brandondelatorrebchs


Public - 9/22/16, 12:08 PM