Wednesday, 3 August 2011

100 years of the nuclear atom

This year marks 100 years since Rutherford published his ground breaking paper on nuclear structure of atoms (E. Rutherford. The Scattering of α and β Particles by Matter and the Structure of the Atom. May 1911, Philos. Mag, 21:669-688). Rutherford working at the time at University of Manchester conducted an experiment studying scattering of "alpha particles" shot through a thin layer of gold. Extreme angles of the deflection indicated that while the nucleus contains virtually all of the mass of the atom, it only takes up one-billionth of the volume of the atom!!! ... read more: ... also did you know that from 1898-1907 he did his research at McGill University in Canada together with Harriet Brooks (;jsessionid=A685208F43120480FB11702A9CC12E34?method=preview&lang=EN&id=4007), a pioneering female nuclear physicist at a time when it was extremely difficult for women to pursue careers in science, and Frederick Soddy ( who also won a Noble Prize in Chemistry 1921. They discovered that atoms could be transformed and that each atom potentially carried a tremendous amount of energy. For this work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 ( "for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements and the chemistry of radioactive substances." As a bemused Ern often told friends, the fastest transformation he knew of was his transformation from a physicist to a chemist.... this 1908 Nobel Prize was awarded for his work in Canada... read more:

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