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Rutherford's Gold Leaf experiment with Beta Radiation

  1. Jan 5, 2007 #1
    Rutherford's "Gold Leaf" experiment with Beta Radiation

    The other day at school I was doing about Rutherford's gold leaf experiment which proved the structure of atoms. In the experiment alpha radiation was fired at a thin piece of gold, resulting in most of the radiation simply passing through however, some radiation reflected back towards the alpha emittor. The alpha radiation had hit the nucleon of the atom, and being positively charged repelled the radiation back.

    However, I was then asked by my teacher what would happen if beta radiation was fire towards the gold. At first I though it would be attracted to the nucleon, yet I thought this was probably not correct, as for the same reason the electrons in the atoms outer shells are not attracted towards the nucleon, that there is probably some kind of force opposing this attracting. Then I thought the beta radiation may just simply pass straight through as it is travelling at too great a speed for the attraction to have any effect. And possibly a bit of beta radiation will be repelled by the electrons in the outer shell of the gold atoms.

    Perhaps, if someone knows the answer to my problem they could explain.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 5, 2007 #2
    Remember that there are also electrons in the foil, so the betas would be slowed by them (and create a good deal fo bremsstrahlung in the process). Also, the alpha did not hit the nucleon. It was repulsed by the electric field from the nucleon. It takes a great deal of energy for a positive charged particle to actually hit another positive charged particle.
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