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Q: How do you explain what Rutherford would have seen in his gold foil experiment if Thomson's plum pudding model was completely accurate
A: The results of this experiment gave Rutherford the means to arrive at two conclusions: one, an atom was much more than just empty space and scattered electrons (J.J. [ Thomson model argued), and two, an atom must have a positively charged center that contains most of its mass (which Rutherford termed as the nucleus). Since alpha particles are relatively heavy, positively charged particles, the
fact that the occasional particle would be deflected by either a small or large margin proved that a portion of an atom was both positively charged (particles of identical charges repel one another while particles of opposite charges attract one another) and relatively heavy by atomic standards. Since only a small number of alpha particles veered slightly when passed through the foil and since even fewer bounced back at the experiment, Rutherford reasoned that this positively charged center was relatively small in reference to the total size of the atom. Therefore J.J. Thompson was slightly correct in his assumption that atoms are primarily composed of empty space.With the disproof of the plum pudding model and with Rutherford's discovery of an atom's nucleus, it was now possible for Neils Bohr to construct his model of an atom's structure. Bohr conversed with Rutherford on several occasions and was able to use the knowledge he gained from the encounters to create what is now called the quantum mechanical model of an atom. To explain briefly, Bohr described the hydrogen atom as a nucleus with an electron circling around it, much as a planet orbits the sun. The problem with Bohr's model is that it only works soundly for the hydrogen atom (this and other facts about Bohr's research and the quantum mechanical model can be found here). Even though Bohr's model was not entirely correct in its application, the point to grab here is that Rutherford's experiment with gold foil and his discovery of the nucleus had a huge contribution to the development of today's atomic theory(s). ]
Expert answered|selymi|Points 4422|
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Asked 7/5/2011 9:42:10 AM
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