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Particle collision

  1. Aug 30, 2005 #1
    why does an alpha particle have the smallest distance to an atom if it aprroaches the nucleus head on?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 31, 2005 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Because if the alpha comes in head on, it can convert all of its kinetic energy to potential energy, coming to a complete stop momentarily before rebounding in the opposite direction. If it doesn't come in head on, it never comes to a complete stop, so its maximum potential energy is smaller.
  4. Aug 31, 2005 #3
    oh right!!!
    thanks!!! :)
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