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Overview         (For age - group : Above 16 )

Educational physics animation : To see the invisible needs extraordinary vision, the discovery of nucleus was a landmark event that changed the course of science and development in this world leading to creation of nuclear power plants and ironically nuclear bombs. Lets see how this discovery was made by these extraordinary men.

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Discovery of Nucleus by Rutherford:
Category : Atomic theory
Type : Animation
Total animation length: One hour 10 minutes
Animation Type : Advanced
Animation contains the following

  • Radioactivity and its discovery- gateway to know the structure of atom
  • Investigation of radiations produced by radioactive elements
  • Rutherford's Gold foil experiment
  • Why did he take Gold for studying the scattering of alpha rays?
  • What did he expect from the experiment - alpha ray scattering by Thomson's atomic model
  • What were the observations of the experiment?
  • Conclusions- discovery of nucleus
  • Atom as per Rutherford- Planetary Model of the atom
  • What holds the electron in circular orbit?
  • Was Rutherford's atomic model able to explain the characteristics of matter and mystery of spectral lines?
  • Drawbacks of Rutherford's model - instability of the atoms
    Why was Rutherford's model unstable?

Snapshots         

Rutherford's experiment for identifying alpha,beta and gamma rays

Rutherford's experiment for identifying alpha,beta and gamma rays

Rutherford's vision of the atom

Rutherford's Planetary atomic model
Rutherford's vision of the atom
Rutherford's Planetary atomic model

Calculations for deflection of alpha rays

The gold foil experiment and scattering of alpha rays

Calculations for deflection of alpha rays
The gold foil experiment and scattering of alpha rays
Failure of Rutherford's model - formation of line spectra
Failure of Rutherford's model - formation of line spectra
Analysis of electron's velocity vector continuously changing direction leading to acceleration
Analysis of electron's velocity vector- changing direction leading to acceleration
Emission of electromagnetic waves
Electromagnetic wave creation
Emission of electromagnetic waves
Electromagnetic wave creation

Thomson's atomic model was the basis of Rutherford's experiment
Thomson's atomic model was the basis of Rutherford's experiment
Details of the animation/ movie /software

The science animation explains the following in a story like manner using in-depth explanation, the discovery of nucleus.

Lord Rutherford while studying the nature of the Curie's radiation discovered that the radioactive elements emit three types of radiations with different penetrating power namely alpha (least penetrated), beta (moderately penetrating) and Gamma (highly penetrating). When these radiations were subjected to electric fields, alpha rays were found to be positively charged particles while beta rays were found as negatively charged light particles. Gamma rays were found to be neutral in nature.

While studying the properties of these radiations, Rutherford noticed that the beam of alpha rays when were made to fall on a photographic plate by passing it through air, the edges of the slit became diffused and widened. He concluded that the alpha rays were scattered by air molecules.

To get a clearer evidence about the scattering he along with his co-workers Geiger and Marsden built an apparatus to bombard alpha particles on thin metallic foils. The metallic foil he selected for his experiment was a very thin gold foil.

Now if the atoms were actually arranged according to Thomson, then the alpha particles would go undeflected. But during experimentation it was found that though most of the alpha particles went right through the thin foil, a few alpha particles rebounded almost directly backwards. These large angle deflections were not consistent with Thomson's model.

From the above observations he concluded that large scattering angles could only occur if most of the mass of the atom, and all of its positive charge reside in a very small, extremely dense region called the atomic nucleus.

Thus Rutherford established a new model of the atom that was similar to the structure of planets in orbit around the sun. Rutherford's model consisted of a dense positive core at the center of the atom with electrons orbiting around it. This is called as Planetary Model of the atom.


Though Rutherford was successful enough to explain the rearrangement of the charged particles within the atom, his model faced some serious problems.

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Q & A
Q1: Briefly discribe the discovery of atomic nucleus Umar manzoor 8/1/2016
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Q2: can u tell me more about the discovery of atomic nucleus plz meron 29/9/2014
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Q3: why do not electron fall into nucleous ? M.Usman 20/7/2013
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Q4: lord rutherford siad that electrons are continous revolving around an atom then why electrons do not collide with nucleous. akash singh parihar 9/2/2013
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Q5: why does electromagnetic wave not require any media for propogation? pankaj chaurasia 4/11/2012
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Q6: hydrogen fuel jasmin 4/10/2012
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Q7: how do we will get the model rutherford only images for doing activity? pooja 6/8/2012
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Q8: how do we will get the model rutherford only images for doing activity? pooja 6/8/2012
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Q9: In what way were Thomson's and Rutherford's models of the atom similar? nancy 10/2/2012
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Q10: if rutherford had of used negative particles in his experiment instead of positive how might the results of his experiment have changed?? megan 3/4/2011
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Q11: How do Rutherford come to know that all mass lies in the center exactly not in near periphery, or in one side.ctly Brajesh Kumar Pandey 6/12/2010
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Q12: suppose Rutherford had bombarded aluminum foil with alpha particles instead of the gold foil he used in his experiment.what observations do you predict rutherford would have made cassandra 22/9/2010
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Q13: What is hybridisation and how can we draw its models? Mohammed Azam Aqeel 31/7/2010
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Q14: what is meant by quantum model ? nasir 4/7/2010
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Q15: failure of rutherford model imran 19/4/2010
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Q16: why is a GOLD foil used in the rutherford's alpha rays scattering experiment? Jeena 16/3/2010
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Q17: What are the drawb of rutherford's model of atom? siyu 9/11/2009
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Q18: What are Quarks ? bhadresh 7/11/2009
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Q19: Which experiment led Rutherford to the discovery of the Nuclear Model? jflkjdsafk 15/10/2009
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Q20: Why is einstien a douche tyler norwood 16/10/2008
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Q21: what is Ernest Rutherfords midde name? kynidie 15/10/2008
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Q22: what was his or her education and background? kate 3/10/2008
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Q23: how did the rutherford atom change the world? lucas 25/6/2008
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Q24: Very useful information on the site. Could you please explain that in Rutherford scattreing experiment, if rutherford would have used thick gold sheet rather than thin sheet, what difference would have occurred? Dinesh Kumar Sharma 13/6/2008
Ans: Actually thicker foils were initially used but a lot of scattering was observed so it was thought that the scattering is due to rebound from these thick foils hence a very thin 2000 atom thick gold foil was used to allow all alpha particles to pass through but even these were scattered.
   
Q25: is Rutherfords model still used in science today? if so when and why? hayley brunk 19/5/2008
Ans: The study of model is more of evolutionary interest of atomic models and historical importance. It was important as scientists started to realize that the atom is not ultimately a single particle, but is made up of far smaller subatomic particles. It essentially proposed the concept of the nucleus, although this word is not used anymore. Despite its inaccuracy, the Rutherford model caught the imagination of the public in a way that the more correct Bohr model did not, and has continually been used as a symbol for atoms and atomic energy. Examples of its use over the past century include: The logo of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, the flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency is a Rutherford atom
   
Q26: tell me about electromagnetic waves Hyndavi 7/5/2008
Ans: Electromagnetic waves are formed by vibration of an electric charge, these are transverse waves composed of a sinusoidal electric field oscillation and a sinusoidal magnetic field oscillation. The magnetic and electric field oscillations are in phase. The magnetic field oscillates perpendicular (90°) to the electric field. They both oscillate perpendicular to the direction the wave travels. EM waves do not require a medium to propagate and they carry their own momentum. All EM waves travel at the speed of light in a vacuum. Electromagnetic radiation is classified into types according to the frequency of the wave, these types include (in order of increasing frequency): radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays.
   
Q27: how do you spell ernest rutherford giuseppe jubilo 31/1/2008
Ans: You correctly spelled it - Ernest Rutherford
   
Q28: how can we find the density of gold nucleus? zeel dave 30/1/2008
Ans: Gold nucleus consists of 79 protons and 79 Neutrons = 158 nucleons. Now Mass of Nucleon = 1.67×10^−27 kg, multiplying this by 158, we get, 158 x 1.67×10^−27 kg = 263.86×10^−27 kg, this is the Gold’s nuclear mass. Now Gold’s Nuclear Radius = 7.3 x10^-15. So its nuclear volume (Considering nucleus a sphere) is = 4/3 x pi x R^3. Substituting the value of Radius R in the equation, Volume = 4/3x 22/7 x (7.3 x10^-15)^3 = 1630.166 x 10^-45. Now dividing the mass by volume, 263.86x10^-27 / 1630.166 x 10^-45 = 0.16 x 10^18 = 1.6 x 10^17 kg /m3. This is the density of gold nucleus.
   
Q29: Why would the alpha particles not react the same on a foil of magnesium? Kar 9/1/2008
Ans: Actually they will have the same reactions and effects as on a gold foil, gold foil was used because it was highly malleable and extremely thin (2,000 atoms thick -1/3000 inch thick) and uniform foil could be prepared for testing.
   
Q30: what is the difference between rutherford and bohrs modle chris 6/1/2008
Ans: The primary difference is that Rutherford’s was a planetary model while Bohr’s was a quantum model. Rutherford’s model had continuous states while Bohr’s model had discrete states. Rutherford’s Model was based on positions while Bohr’s was based on energy states.
   
Q31: explain rutherford alpha ray scattering experiment ? linda 28/12/2007
Ans: Please buy or subscribe to the animation or refer to our article section – The Discovery of nucleus by Rutherford
   
Q32: What are the drawback's of rutherford's model of the atom? SOURAV MOHANTY 27/12/2007
Ans: Please buy or subscribe to the animation or refer to our article section – The Discovery of nucleus by Rutherford
   
Q33: can you give me rutherford's interpretations of the gold foil experemental results lloyd palejaro 2/12/2007
Ans: Rutherford’s model was different from Thomson’s. In Thomson’s all alpha particles should have directly passed through the atom as the positive charge was spread throughout, but in experimentation, it was found that though most of the alpha particles went right through the thin foil, a few alpha particles rebounded almost directly backwards. These large angle deflections were not consistent with Thomson's model. From the above observations Rutherford concluded that large scattering angles could only occur if most of the mass of the atom, and all of its positive charge reside in a very small, extremely dense region called the atomic nucleus. The repulsion between the highly charged gold nucleus and the particle is strong enough to deflect the less massive particle.
   
Q34: what were the limitations of thomson's model of an atom pushkar 12/11/2007
Ans: Please refer to the "Discovery of electron" animation on our site
   
Q35: Why was gold used for the foil instead of another metal, such as magnesium? Ruth 26/9/2007
Ans: Actually not only gold but lead, tin, aluminum, platinum, copper, Iron were used in experiment by Geiger and Marsden.. They preferred gold because it was highly malleable and extremely thin (2,000 atoms thick -1/3000 inch thick) and uniform foil could be prepared for testing.
   
Q36: why did rutherford use a THIN sheet of gold foil? eiman mohamed 21/9/2007
Ans: Your question has been answered below on the page
   
Q37: WHAT IS THE APPARENT PROBLEM WITH THE ATOMIC NUCLEUS RE: THE LAW OF EM EMILY OBRIEN 13/9/2007
Ans: EM is responsible for all phenomenons except gravity but does not solve the sub-nuclear problem of protons remaining together in a small nucleus; for this the short-range strong Force and quarks model is used, where the protons are stabilized by exchanging mesons between themselves and with neutrons. This creates a strong force that can hold the nucleus together. This also postulates that protons and neutrons are made up of quarks and gluons- so are together called as nucleons.
   
Q38: why did rutherford use a THIN sheet of gold foil? jatt 11/9/2007
Ans: Note that Geiger-Marsden had in mind Thomson’s plum pudding model, positive charge pudding with electron studded like cherries. They expected the high-speed alpha particles to pass straight through the foil. Once the scattering of alpha particles occurred, they thought it was due to thickness of foil hence kept reducing it, as gold is highly malleable, a thin gold foil (2,000 atoms thick -1/3000 inch thick) could be made, but to their surprise the alpha particle were scattered from that also.
   
Q39: Sir please tell me the way for free download of this video if any? sanaullh 28/8/2007
Ans: There are lot of animations available in the downloads section, some can be downloaded and most can be viewed online, we are regularly upgrading this section so keep checking
   
Q40: how did j.j. thomson made the thomsons atomic model lj 13/8/2007
Ans: Please refer to the "Discovery of electron" animation on our site
   
Q41: whats gonna happen if the Mass of gold atoms are more than that of alpha particles in rutherford experiement?? eiman mohamed 8/8/2007
Ans: Is there a confusion here, mass of gold is many times more than that of alpha particles. Alpha particles consist of two protons and two neutrons bound together into a particle identical to a helium nucleus; 3.72738 GeV mass. Gold, (symbol Au) has an atomic number of 79 i.e. each gold atom has 79 protons in its nucleus. The atomic mass of the gold atom is 196.967
   
Q42: how to create a model of atom? john 7/8/2007
Ans: I guess you are preparing a project , place a ball at the center and put either cotton around it to indicate electron cloud, or better still make an air tight glass box stick a small ball at its center and through a hole insert smoke seal the hole to indicate a cloud.
   
Q43: Why is Rutherford's model - formation of line spectra, a failure? Nichelle 7/8/2007
Ans: An orbiting electron accelerates due to the centripetal force acting on it. Any accelerated charge particle loses its energy by emitting electromagnetic radiation. As the electron spirals in, it orbits faster and faster, generating electromagnetic waves of higher and higher frequency, until finally, it crashes into the nucleus itself. This means that the atom should emit a continuous band of spectrum but atoms were always found to emit the line spectra.
   
Q44: how can i get animations? ALEEM 5/8/2007
Ans: Please purchase them to download them to your computer or subscribe and view online, you can do both through credit card, paypal or using wire transfer, there are other payments methods also , refer payment faq on our site
   
Q45: Why the model of Rutherford was failed? Gurpreet 29/7/2007
Ans: Rutherford's atomic model failed to explain the unique spectral properties of the elements and their chemical properties and how were the atoms stable even though the electrons were emitting radiations. Later on Bohr modified the model as per quantum theory.
   
Q46: ý am a chem teacher in turkey.this are exelent.free download?thank fatih 12/7/2007
Ans: Thank you for your appreciation, some of them are available for download or viewing online in our download section, some are free to view when you become a member, we plan to increase the free content soon - Regards Admin
   
Q47: i need everything on hydrogen Soviet 3/7/2007
Ans: The topic is under research, will take some time
   
Q48: what are the drawbacks of rutherford model ? soru 25/5/2007
Ans: Refer our articles section for drawbacks
   
Q49: i need atom structur only moves kian 12/5/2007
Ans: We are unable to provide a portion of the animation, please purchase and download or subscribe and view online the complete animation
   
Q50: why did Rutherford use the gold foil n the fluorescent sheet? Nomta 13/3/2007
Ans: Mass of gold atoms was more than that of alpha particles and gold is very malleable and could be easily hammered into a thin foil
   
Q51: explain me about rutherford's model of conversion of nitrogen to oxygen when it is bombarded with alpha particles ? deepak 5/3/2007
Ans: Rutherford bombarded nitrogen gas with alpha particles and obtained atoms of an oxygen isotope and protons. The nitrogen was obtained by adding ammonium chloride to sodium nitrite, and stored over water. It was carefully dried before admission to the apparatus. With pure nitrogen, the number of long-range scintillations under similar conditions was greater than in air, these were protons. Nitrogen-14 ( 7 proton + 7 neutron) + Helium-4 ( 2P + 2N) --> Oxygen-17 (8P + 9N) + Hydrogen-1(1 P)
   
Q52: how has rutherford's discovery/invention affected us Joshua 26/2/2007
Ans: I think we answered that in the last question, we are not understanding about what you are looking for, could you please ask a detailed question, so that we can answer you correctly - Thanks Admin
   
Q53: How does the rutherford's discovery help us today? Joshua 25/2/2007
Ans: Rutherford's discovery in today’s context has been relegated to one of the initial steps of introducing atom in schools. However, His continuous experiments & logic for putting a structure to atom a century ago, with antiquated tools and discovery of the nucleus was path breaking and laid down the foundation for research of today. Even though science has moved far ahead but the concept of nucleus still holds true. His discovery remains one of the very important turning points for science.
   
Q54: How did the classical electromagnetic theory failed rutherford's model of the atom? chiller 16/2/2007
Ans: The problem lay in the fact that an accelerating charge like electron will lose energy in form of electromagnetic radiation and will finally collapse into the nucleus annihilating the atom in nano seconds. This meant the atom will be unstable and matter will not exist but as we know matter has existed for eons so this led to the failure of Rutherford’s model.
   
Q55: what is the failure of the Rutherford Model? gre 15/2/2007
Ans: Rutherford's atomic model failed to explain the unique spectral properties of the elements and their chemical properties and how were the atoms stable even though the electrons were emitting radiations.
   
Q56: how spectrum was found discontinous in rutherford model? Ankita 7/2/2007
Ans: It was Bohr, who explained the discrete spectra using quantum mechanics. Bohr could successfully calculate the energy and radius of the electron’s orbital using Balmer formula to prove that speed, radius and energy of the electron were quantized or a discrete quantity. However, he could not successfully explain why electron did not radiate while being in these orbital. Bohr’s orbital model was later abandoned and only its remarkably accurate energy level values were accepted.
   
Q57: iwanted to download thes animation hany frawillh 28/9/2006
Ans: We have a shopping card facility through which you can purchase and download the animation
   
Q58: when i searched for Bohr's Model it is also like the model of Rutherford (like the planets and the sun) PJ 10/9/2006
Ans: Bohr's model can be called as planetary model but with a difference that it proposes discreet orbits (energy levels) based on principal quantum number.
   
Q59: pls give the brief informations how Rutherford discovered nucleus.ynx elie 23/8/2006
Ans: From Curie’s radiation, he discovered alpha, beta and gamma radiations. Slit of photographic plates became diffused and widened when alpha rays fell on them. He concluded that alpha rays were being scattered by air molecules. He bombarded alpha particles on different metal foils. Some of them rebounded back. This was not consistent with Thomson’s model, as Alpha particles needed massive concentrated charge to rebound them. Rutherford visualized it to be the nucleus at the core of atoms.
   
Q60: electronic microscope amjad 25/7/2006
Ans: We are coming up with click-and -find kind of animation on electron-microscope, most probably in August, please do ckeck back
   
Q61: can i have free video download to show the students in the school? vidya 13/7/2006
Ans: Hi Vidya, free download of animations except for some of those in the download section is not feasible, however our animation are viewable online through the key above snapshots section on random basis. That can be of use if your class has Internet connection.
   
Q62: why did not the positively charged nucleus deflect the positively charged alpha particles when they went near them before they were hit back? Prithvi 9/7/2006
Ans: It is a misconception that alpha particles “hit “ the nucleus, the scattering is due to strong repulsion of small helium nucleus (alpha particles) by the massive gold nucleus.
   
Q63: does it exist in french ? I want the same website ! avril benoit 9/7/2006
Ans: No right now it is in English only
   
Q64: are thomsons atomic model and rutherfords atomic models have some relation sidharth 15/6/2006
Ans: No, they are not related; Thomson’s model proposed embedding of electrons in a positive mass, while Rutherford’s model proposed a hollow atom with electrons revolving around the nucleus.
   
Q65: how i can have this animation my computers? nina 10/3/2006
Ans: We have a shopping card facility through which you can purchase and download the animation, it will run unlimited times on the computer. Please register to purchase it, once you have purchased it by paying online, it will be put in "My Account" section, download it from there to your computer.
   
Q66: what famous quote did rutherford offer after analyzation of his experimental results? rosa 6/3/2006
Ans: One is stated below, that was after experimental results. His other quotes were:- On splitting the atom: "I have broken the machine and touched the ghost of matter.", “The energy produced by breaking down the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformations of these atoms is talking moonshine.”-wikipedia
   
Q67: what were Rutherford's experimental methods and results? and What famous quote did Rutherford offer after analyzation of his experimental results? cait 28/2/2006
Ans: Please refer our animation and article section for his experiments and results, his famous quote was "It was as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a sheet of tissue paper and it came back to hit you."
   
Q68: I wonder if you could tell me who discovered neutrons please. Krish 26/2/2006
Ans: Nobel foundation in 1935 awarded Mr. James Chadwick, the prize in physics for the discovery of neutron, he used an used an ingenious method to probe into unseen, earlier Rutherford,Walther Bothe and Herbert Becker,Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie had discovered what they thought was a radiation, but Chadwick confirmed by his calculation and experiment that it was a particle "Neutron"
   
Q69: I was wondering if i could use the snapshots on this website for a project at school Nicole 10/2/2006
Ans: Sure, please go ahead as long as it is not for commercial use we have absolutely no problems, all the best - admin
   


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