explain Rutherford's experiment on the the scattering of alpha particles from a gold foil and state the the significance of the results
The initial discovery of "Rutherford Scattering" was made by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden in 1909 when they performed the gold foil experiment under the direction of Rutherford, in which they fired a beam of alpha particles (helium nuclei) at layers of gold leaf, only a few atoms thick. The intriguing results showed that around 1 in 8000 alpha particles were deflected by very large angles (over 90°), while the rest passed straight through with little or no deflection. From this, Rutherford concluded that the majority of the mass was concentrated in a minute, positively charged region (the nucleus) surrounded by electrons. When a (positive) alpha particle approached sufficiently close to the nucleus, it was repelled strongly enough to rebound at high angles. The small size of the nucleus explained the small number of alpha particles that were repelled in this way. The results showed that atoms are mostly empty space but with a very dense center which we now call the nucleus.