Laboratory Write-Up The game in which we participated simulates the early efforts of scientists because they had very little to work with. They too had to guess the size and shape of the atom. In 1911, Rutherford conducted a series of experiments in which he bombarded a piece of gold foil with positively charged alpha particles emitted by radioactive material. Most of the particles passed through the foil undisturbed, suggesting that the foil was made up mostly of empty space rather than of a sheet of solid atoms. Some alpha particles, however, ‘bounced back,’ indicating the presence of solid matter. Atomic particles, Rutherford’s work showed, consisted primarily of empty space surrounding a well-defined central core called a nucleus.
The game portrays the marbles as the alpha beams that bounce off the foam cores. The foam cores represent the nucleus, and the empty space shows how little space the nucleus actually takes up. The game we played can be different than what Rutherford experimented with is because the nucleus is much smaller than actually in the game. The foam wasn’t even in proportion with the size of the space used for the game. Early, atomic scientists actually did not have the opportunity of just peeking under the board to see the shape. They had to go with the results that they had.
That’s why it was so important for them to be precise because if they did anything wrong then this would invalidate their research. They needed to be real precise because they were not as fortunate as scientists today who have technology to back them up. Scientists today do not necessarily have the opportunity to just peak under the board to obtain results. They actually do have it easier than those earlier atomic scientists because they have technology on their side.
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Technology has helped science in the most recent years. Scientists move along a lot faster pace by having technology behind them. In some ways scientist can look under the board because they have machines that calculate the work for them instead of having to do it the long way.