Title

Mechanical Model of Rutherford’s Experiment

Lead Author Major

Mechanical Engineering

Format

SOECS Senior Project Demonstration

Faculty Mentor Name

Kyle Watson

Faculty Mentor Department

Mechanical Engineering

Abstract/Artist Statement

Scientist Ernest Rutherford fired alpha particles from a radioactive source of Radon at a thin sheet of gold foil and calculated the alpha particles' deflection angles. From these deflection angles, it became apparent that the positive charge of an atom was concentrated at its center and the radius of this "nucleus" could be determined. A mechanical model of Rutherford's experiment is being developed to help physics students visualize the interactions of particles on a larger scale and participate in the process of verifying an important scientific achievement. Students taking introductory physics courses will be using the mechanical model in a laboratory setting to develop a deeper understanding of the physics, chemistry, and mathematics that shaped modern theories of atomic structure. The mechanical model will use copper BBs to simulate alpha particles and compressed air to eject them. The base will move laterally on a rack and pinion system to specified positions while being powered by a stepper motor and Arduino controller. By condensing all input parameters to a mechanical system that can be controlled with buttons, we are eliminating measurement errors, reducing laboratory time, and creating a user-friendly experiment that will provide a basic understanding of fundamental concepts in physics.

Location

School of Engineering & Computer Science

Start Date

27-4-2013 2:00 PM

End Date

27-4-2013 3:30 PM

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Apr 27th, 2:00 PM Apr 27th, 3:30 PM

Mechanical Model of Rutherford’s Experiment

School of Engineering & Computer Science

Scientist Ernest Rutherford fired alpha particles from a radioactive source of Radon at a thin sheet of gold foil and calculated the alpha particles' deflection angles. From these deflection angles, it became apparent that the positive charge of an atom was concentrated at its center and the radius of this "nucleus" could be determined. A mechanical model of Rutherford's experiment is being developed to help physics students visualize the interactions of particles on a larger scale and participate in the process of verifying an important scientific achievement. Students taking introductory physics courses will be using the mechanical model in a laboratory setting to develop a deeper understanding of the physics, chemistry, and mathematics that shaped modern theories of atomic structure. The mechanical model will use copper BBs to simulate alpha particles and compressed air to eject them. The base will move laterally on a rack and pinion system to specified positions while being powered by a stepper motor and Arduino controller. By condensing all input parameters to a mechanical system that can be controlled with buttons, we are eliminating measurement errors, reducing laboratory time, and creating a user-friendly experiment that will provide a basic understanding of fundamental concepts in physics.