the scattering of an alpha particle through a large angle with respect to the original direction of motion of the particle, caused by an atom (Rutherford atom) with most of the mass and all of the positive electric charge concentrated at a center or nucleus.
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Origin of Rutherford scattering
First recorded in 1925–30; named after E. Rutherford
Also called alpha-particle scattering, Rutherford alpha-particle scattering.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
The scattering undergone by a stream of heavy charged particles, generally alpha particles fired at a sample of a heavy metal, caused by exposure to coulomb forces exerted by the atomic nuclei of the sample. The patterns produced by such scattering off an extremely thin sheet of gold were early evidence that atoms contain a tiny, positively charged core, what is now called the atomic nucleus.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.