Rutherford's Experiment

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  • Topic: Atom, Ernest Rutherford, Electron
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  • Published : February 26, 2013
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Ernest Rutherford
The Rutherford model is a model of the atom devised by Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford directed the famous Geiger-Marsden experiment in 1909, which suggested, upon Rutherford's 1911 analysis, that the so-called "plum pudding model" of J. J. Thomson of the atom was incorrect. Rutherford's new model for the atom, based on the experimental results, contained the new features of a relatively high central charge concentrated into a very small volume in comparison to the rest of the atom and with this central volume also containing the bulk of the atomic mass of the atom. This region would be named the "nucleus" of the atom in later years.

Rutherford presented his own physical model for subatomic structure, as an interpretation for the unexpected experimental results. In it, the atom is made up of a central charge surrounded by a cloud of orbiting electrons. In this May 1911 paper, Rutherford only commits himself to a small central region of very high positive or negative charge in the atom. The J.J. Thompson model of the atom was one called "plum pudding" with the massive elements inside just "scattered around" like plums in a pudding. This Thompson model had no central mass. Rutherford, based on his "thinking through" the results of experimentation, figured out that the mass of the atom must be concentrated in a central location with electrons orbiting around it. His contribution stands as a monument to his efforts and as an important "stepping stone" to further refinement of the atomic model.
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