Smaller than an Atom

The atom, what can we really say about it? A lot, actually. The atom is the building block of our universe, the center of every piece of matter, it’s what makes up everything around us. And yet, up until recently, we didn’t know have a clue as to what it looked like. But even still, scientists were able to visually represent the atom, furthering the studies of our universe by tremendous leaps,without ever actually seeing an atom. So how did they do this? Let’s take a look at the history of the model of the atom.

The atom began as a concept from Dalton, giving us our first comprehensive theory of the atom. This changed very slight in 1904, with Thompson introducing the idea of negative and positive charges, or the “Plum Pudding” theory. However, when experimenting with alpha rays around 1911, Rutherford discovered that there had to be a center, something that stopped his alpha rays from passing through the atoms. This gave way to his model, and the discovery of the nucleus. The model changed again in 1913 with Bohr, who gave the idea of energy levels, and built off of Rutherford, and began to use orbits for electrons in his model, assuming that we could predict the location of an electron. The model would come to the most widely accepted model in 1926 with Schrodinger’s electron cloud model. This stated that the electrons were random, floating about around the nucleus, trapped by pull but by no means truly orbiting.
The model of the atom has greatly changed, and all from experiments that gave their scientists the evidence to support the, without ever actually seeing an atom.


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