On a Diffuse Reflection of the alpha-Particles.

London: Harrison and Sons, 1909.

A fine copy, in the original wrappers, of the famous Geiger-Marsden experiment (or gold foil experiment) which demonstrated for the first time the existence of the atomic nucleus, leading to the downfall of Thomson’s plum-pudding model of the atom, and the development of the Rutherford (or planetary) model.

“One of the most important experiments in physics took place in 1909 when Hans Geiger (1882-1945) and the undergraduate student Ernest Marsden (1889-1979), under the direction of Rutherford, sent alpha particles towards a very thin film of gold, and discovered that the majority of them passed through the foil without hitting anything. Only a tiny number of particles were scattered back (towards the source) after hitting the nucleus of a gold atom. The Results of the experiment were analyzed by Rutherford (the experimental results were first described by Geiger and Marsden in Proc. Roy. Soc. vol. 82, p.495, 1909), and led to several far-reaching conclusions. The first was that most of the atom is empty! The nucleus occupies only the 10-15the part of the volume of the atom (a radius 105 times bigger than the newly found radius of the nucleus). Thus, the orbits of the outer-most electrons (which define the radius of the atom) are far away from the nucleus. The second conclusion was that the force acting between the positive charge in the nucleus and charged scattered projectiles obeys the Coulomb law.” (Shaviv, The Life of Stars, Springer 2009).

“It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you. On consideration, I realized that this scattering backward must be the result of a single collision, and when I made calculations I saw that it was impossible to get anything of that order of magnitude unless you took a system in which the greater part of the mass of the atom was concentrated in a minute nucleus. It was then that I had the idea of an atom with a minute massive center, carrying a charge” (Ernest Rutherford).

“In many respects this picture is one of the most fundamental in physics. We note that at this time Wien's discovery of the proton had not yet been approved. The nucleus was found to contain the positive charge, but its breakdown was not clear. Note also that Rutherford got his Nobel Prize [in chemistry] before he analyzed the alpha scattering experiment and made this fantastic contribution, for which he definitely deserved the Nobel in physics.” (Ibid).

DSB, V, 331; XII, 31; Brandt, The Harvest of a Century, pp.66-69.

8vo (257 x 175 mm). In: Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series A, vol. 82, no. 557, pp. 495-500. The complete issue offered (pp.453-533) in original printed wrappers, very fine.

Item #3587

Price: $1,850.00

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