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Atomic Target Practice


Publication 91558

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Rutherford scattering is one of the most famous experiments of all time. More than 25 years after conducting the experiment, Ernest Rutherford described the results this way: “It was about as credible as if you had fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you.” The experiment itself was actually the culmination of a series of experiments, carried out over a five-year period, dealing with the scattering of high-energy alpha particles by various substances. What is “Rutherford scattering” and why was it so important?