The Smallest Particle?
The Atom. Adapted from “Newton Typepad“ website, 2008, http://newton.typepad.com/content/2008/07/atom-powered-co.html
As far back, from my school years, as I can remember the word atom signified the smallest particle of matter. This is a very layman like attitude a scientist would abhor, because a scientist knows that this concept of ‘the smallest particle of matter' has been changing rapidly over the years. The Greeks, it is said, coined the word “atom”. When this concept was articulated by the Greeks, there were no electronic equipments or high-tech labs to verify and further explore this “atom”. Technological advances have given today’s physicists the needed methods and means to explore matter in ways never possible in the early days of the atom.
John Dalton(1766-1844): Father of the Modern Atomic Theory
John Dalton theorized that(John Dalton. (2013). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved Jun 05, 2013, from http://www.biography.com/people/john-dalton-9265201.):
John Dalton, Adapted from “Biography.com” website, http://www.biography.com/pe ople/john-dalton-9265201
•Elements are distinguishable by the weight of their atoms • Atoms cannot be created or destroyed • Atoms fuse together to form compounds • Atoms of the same element are identical in every way. • Atom is the smallest particle.
The most basic description that is universally understood, would be, that matter is made of atoms. Now in today’s “enlightened” world, this would be too simple of a statement to make categorically. It becomes necessary for us to take into account the advances in atom science and be able to qualify our statement. We must further state, that though matter is made up of atoms, they are no longer the smallest particles of matter. Let us begin a journey through time to be able to appreciate our understanding, of how the concept of the “smallest particle of matter” has changed over time. The first modern day proponents of the atomic theory held pretty much the same belief as the Greeks. The big difference was though the more detailed descriptions of the atomic structure and properties.
The discovery of electrons was an earth (matter) shattering incident in science. Till that time the accepted notion was that atoms were the smallest particle and there was no way of breaking up the atom into smaller particles. It was unthinkable. Then, as our theme for the task suggests, science changes with time and discoveries. In 1906 a British scientist by the name of Sir Joseph John Thomson won the Nobel Prize in Physics. This very same scientist, in 1904, travelled to the USA to present his research, through which he announced to the world his discovery of the “electron”. He thus forever changed the then held concept of the atom being the smallest particle. JJ Thomson theorized that (Joseph John Thomson. (2013). The Chemical Heritage Foundation website. Retrieved Jun 05, 2013, from http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/online-resources/chemistry-inhistory/themes/atomic-and-nuclear-structure/thomson.aspx)
Nucleus, adapted from “hubpages” website, http://theeskimo.hubpages.co m/hub/chem101atom
JJ Thomson, adapted from “chemheritage.org” website, http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/onlineresources/chemistry-in-history/themes/atomic-andnuclear-structure/thomson.aspx
•Atoms are composed of a positive charge with negatively charged electrons present. • Positive charge is equal to that of the negative charge thereby rendering an Atom neutral.
Journey of Atomic Research
As scientific discoveries exploded in all fields of science, new and wonderful things about the atom became clearer. Today we have list of particles that are present in the atom: protons, neutrons, pions, quarks, & sub-atomic particles. These discoveries are the result of research by numerous scientists and research teams. 1911, Earnest Rutherford identifies the “nucleus” of an atom (Wikipedia, 2013, sec. 1.1) 1917,...
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