48_zoo - Lesson 48: The Subatomic Zoo By the 1930's...

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Lesson 48: The Subatomic Zoo By the 1930's physicists blew apart any possible way of going back to a simple model of matter being made up of just three fundamental particles like electrons, protons, and neutrons. We've already seen that we have to add in the idea of antiparticles, so, we've already doubled the number of fundamental particles. The discoveries that started to be made were so fantastic and almost unbelievable, that physicists started to refer to their model of subatomic particles as the subatomic zoo . Over time, higher and higher energies were being used to investigate the structure of matter. This is necessary since as you try to probe smaller and smaller structures, the fundamental forces holding matter together get stronger and stronger. At 13.6eV you can ionize a hydrogen atom, causing an electron to be ejected. At a few hundred electron volts you can look at various energy levels in atoms. Rutherford had to use around 10 MeV (10 6 eV)to be able to look at the size of a nucleus. This was necessary to allow his alpha particles to have enough energy to get close to the nucleus, overcoming the electrostatic repulsion. He got alpha particles with about this energy from using polonium and radium isotopes. By the time we reach GeV (10 9 eV), we start to see some wacky stuff happen. .. the particles start to combine and break apart, momentarily creating new fundamental particles never seen before! It would be like throwing a golf ball at a vase, and in the resulting wreckage seeing a
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This note was uploaded on 12/02/2011 for the course PHYSICS 235 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at Rutgers.

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48_zoo - Lesson 48: The Subatomic Zoo By the 1930's...

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