Essay on Ernest Rutherford and The Gold Foil Experiment

755 Words4 Pages
Ernest Rutherford was a New Zealand born British physicist who is famously known for “splitting the atom.” His work on the gold foil experiment contributed greatly to the model of the atom and helped develop the standard model of the atom to what we now use today. Without his contributions we would still be using the Plum Pudding model, an out dated and incorrect model, and we would have less of an understanding of how atoms form the world around us. Before Rutherford’s Geiger-Marsden experiment the most popular model of the atom was the “plum pudding model” developed in 1904 by the person who also discovered the electron in 1897, J.J. Thompson. It was the most common model of the atom and stated that electrons (plum) floated around with…show more content…
He positioned a variety of metal foil in the route of the alpha rays, including gold, silver, tin, copper and aluminium (at different times) to observe whether the flashes of light moved, spread out, or changed at all. He found that as the various metals disrupted the paths of the rays the flashes become more spread out. This result indicated that alpha particles were being deflected as they passed through the metals. Rutherford wanted to know if alpha particles could be deflected at a larger angle, as the current tool developed by Geiger could only measure deflection of up to a few angles. Geiger was joined by Ernest Marsden to create a new instrument to detect whether alpha particles could be deflected at greater angles. This device was different from the previous in the way that the gold foil and radium were both inside a metal cylinder, which was fixed to a swivel. The microscope attached penetrated the wall of the cylinder. The lens of the microscope was covered in a zinc sulphide screen and the microscope could be moved in a full circle around the foil so Geiger could tally the flashes of light from every possible angle. He observed alpha particles deflecting by as much as 150°. The results of this experiment proved the plum pudding model of the atom to be incorrect as some of the alpha particles (helium atoms) deflected meaning the atom has a dense centre of positive charge. Particles either hit the positive

More about Essay on Ernest Rutherford and The Gold Foil Experiment

Open Document