Ernest Rutherford

the Gold Foil Experiment

A little background on Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford was born in Nelson, New Zealand, in the year 1871. He was in a family of twelve children. At age sixteen he attended collegiate school, and continued to the University of New Zealand.

The Experiment

He put a zinc sulfide screen behind the foil in order to reflect light (show the particles) and he placed them on the microscope. The experiment was done in total darkness so the particles would be seen. They observed that particles bounced back as well as passed through the foil. The experiment proved that atoms are made up of more than just empty space and electrons. He discovered the nucleus.

why this experiment?

Rutherford was testing "The Plum Pudding Theory", he assumed the atoms would bounce back instead of going straight through the foil. Meaning, atoms are more than simply empty space and electrons.