Rutherford's scattering experiment showed that atoms consist mostly of empty space, with a positively charged nucleus at the center. His experiments provided the first working model of atomic structure based on observation. Rutherford’s atom has a planetary structure, with negatively charged electrons orbiting around a positively charged nucleus and a large amount of empty space between the two.Know More
Atomic models remained mostly speculative until 1911 when Ernest Rutherford proposed his model using experimental data from scattering experiments conducted by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden under Rutherford’s direction. The experiment used alpha particles (helium ions) directed toward a thin gold foil target. They observed that most of the positively charged alpha particles passed straight through the foil. Some of the alpha particles showed small deflections of just a few degrees as they passed through, but a few showed a large deflection angle, greater than 90 degrees. Based on these results Rutherford proposed that atoms contain a small, densely packed nucleus with a positive charge and that electrons, considerably smaller, orbited the nucleus.
Based on Rutherford’s equations, physicists had their first solid evidence of the size of the nucleus relative to the size of an atom itself. Subsequent experiments would refine these numbers. Neils Bohr refined Rutherford’s planetary model and countered objections to the orbiting electrons by creating energy shells and describing how energy moved from one shell to another and emitted light quanta to maintain a balance. While quantum physics explains the energy states more accurately, Rutherford’s nucleus still persists, albeit in a wildly different way than he might have imagined.Learn more about Physics
Nuclear power stations generate electricity through the fission, or splitting, of uranium atoms inside the reactor core, which generates extreme amounts of heat. The core is surrounded with water, which boils due to the heat, creating steam that is then used to drive a turbine to create electricity.Full Answer >
Atomic bombs work by splitting atoms, while hydrogen bombs, also known as nuclear bombs, draw their energy from fusing atoms together. While both types of reactions involve the nucleus of the atom, and both can therefore rightly be called "nuclear," tradition has reserved the word for the types of reactions that are exclusive to fusion devices.Full Answer >
There are many physics jokes, such as the atoms and electron anecdote. Two atoms bump into each other. One says, "I have lost an electron!" The other asks, "Are you sure?" The first replies, "Yes, I'm positive."Full Answer >
Neutron capture is the process by which neutrons are taken up by the nucleus of an atom. This process is an important part of the synthesis of heavy elements, as it is the only way to produce elements heavier than barium. Neutron capture is also the primary mechanism used to cool fuel rods in nuclear reactors, as control rods made of boron readily absorb stray neutrons to control fluctuations.Full Answer >