Essay about The Discovery of the Electron

1008 Words5 Pages
There are many different experiments which can give varying intelligence about the makeup of matter, in different ways and with different conclusions. In this instance I will be looking at the discovery of the electron, how our understanding of it has changed over the years, and measure how it has contributed to where we are today.
Joseph John Thomson (J. J. Thomson, 1856 - 1940) is widely recognized as the discoverer of the electron. Thomson was a Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge University, and Director of its Cavendish Laboratory, from 1884 until 1919. It is here where his most well-known, varied and comprehensive work, in the field of conduction of electricity within gases, was undertaken. In 1897 Thompson made an
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Despite this, it did not signify that the discharge had stopped, as there would still be current flowing between the electrodes, and these are what Thompson referred to as cathode rays.
J. J. Thomson presumed that the cathode rays which emanated from the negative electrode were a collection of particles possessing negative charges. If a negative electric potential were applied to the upper plate, and the lower plate was positive, then the cathode ray beam would curve downwards and the spot visible on the screen would also move downward. Thomson recorded this, and also noted that the spot neither spread significantly, nor faded. This demonstrated that Thompson’s conclusions were correct, and cathode rays comprise a beam of like "particles" with a negative charge.
It has transpired that the electron is not quite what Thomson concluded, as it is incorrect to believe that electrons are either particles or waves, but cannot be both. Under some circumstances electrons behave like particles, while under other conditions they act as waves. Subsequently, much has been learnt about the characteristics of electrons from the work of other scientists. However, Thomson's first painstaking experiments and adventurous hypotheses were substantiated by crucial experimental and theoretical work. From this was derived the computers and T.V. we now generally encounter in society: they are direct descendants from the cathode ray tube on which Thompson
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