JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
People have been thinking along the lines of "electrons" for a long time, though the word is of relatively recent origin (1874), coined by the wonderfully-named Johnstone Stoney (1826-1911) after deducing that ther must be some type of electrical bit that vibrates within the atom that would generate light. J.J. Thomson (1856-1940) stated later in 1897 in his paper "Cathode Rays" that evidence points to the fact that there must exist particles that are less massive than the hydrogen atom--he called these objects "corpuscles" but he was referring to what we now know as "electrons". The gorgeous "oil drop" experiment of 1910 by R.A.Millikan (1868-1953) determined the charge of the electron, and in the next year--1911--Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937, and one of the 20th century's greatest Kiwis) proposed the structure of the nuclear atom. Then the major development of Louis de Broglie's (1892-1960) particle/wave duality, and so on into our near-present. But in between the beautiful work of Millikan and Rutherford came this little beast, a very unsatisfyingly-assumed image of an atom and its swirling electrons. The image appeared in the December 1920 issue of Illustrated World and just seems so unfair to the cause of beauty that I thought to share it.