Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsChemistry · 10 months ago

How do scientists know what is inside of an atom and what it's made of?

Ok, so supposedly atoms are the smallest materials in the universe. They cannot be seen with our eyes. If that is true, then how do scientists know what they look like and what they are made of, etc.?

6 Answers

  • david
    Lv 7
    10 months ago
    Favourite answer

    9th-grade science classes teach this stuff.  With the discovery of radioactivity scientists suddenly had a way to 'look' inside atoms.  One of these particles was negatively charged and thought to be inside every atom. === So the original idea that atoms were the smallest particles of matter was no longer believed.  Experiments showed that every element contained these neg. particles.  More experiments showed that the mass of these neg particles are about only 1/1000-th the mass of the smallest atom and the called them electrons.  If there are neg. particles than there must also be positive particles because matter is neutral.  More experiments found that part of radioactivity released some pos. oarticles called alpha particles.  If you capture them, they will 'steal' electrons from other substances and form Helium.  Rutherford decided to 'shoot' some of these a really thin sheet of gold to see if they scattered back away from the foil IF THE POS. CHARGE OF THE ATOM WAS SPREAD THIN EVERYWHERE.  They did NOT reflect back, bur most went straight thru the thin gold foil.  A very few of the alpha (+) were deflected back almost straight back, proving that the atom had a VERY small pos. charged part that they named the nucleus.  ALL the pos. of an atom was concentrated there.  The amount of pos. depended on some other small particles.  The pos. was actually smaller particles that they named protons, which were very heavy compared to the electrons.  Each proton was more than 1500 times as heavy as an electron.  Every atom has these and they give atoms their identity.  Hydrogen has ust one proton, all other atoms have more.  Helium has 2 protons .. Lithium has 3 protons .. etc up to Uranium which has 92 protons.  This became known as the atomic number. === These 2 particles did not make all the mass of the atom, so more experiments were done.  Chadwick finally discovered a neutral particle which he called the neutron which has slightly more mass than a proton, and these are also in the nucleus. -----  That is a very short version of the science of atoms taught to 9th graders.  ===  No longer do scientists think that atoms are the smallest part of matter.  Because of these experiments they know there are these smaller parts.  More advanced classes will teach about even smaller particles, quarks, that make up the protons and neutrons === you can read about those on your own.


    Just because you cannot see something does not mean it does not exist.  I can not see the air, but without it everyone would die.

  • 10 months ago

    The current model of an atom is a cover up. The solar system is one big atom. Unfortunately, the model we all are given is made up and incorrect. The fact is the knowledge we are given is just guesses and nothing is confirmed, but every one is confident it is what it is. 

    If you want to know how it all works you have to not trust a single word conventional education in all countries is offering and start looking yourself.  So, the answer to your question is: they don't know, they just pretend they do to justify their wages. 

  • 10 months ago

    It is a long and complicated story and the "know" part is open to discussion.  We have evidence from light and particle behavior when interacting with "atoms" as well as charge and chemical behavior indicating "electron" behavior, and energy considerations (emission and absorption characteristics), and a number of other things that all combine to generate a model for the nature of atoms.  It took a very long time and a lot of work involving many people in order to come up with constraints on what can be possible when it comes to the nature of the atom.

    The model does not have to be actually correct and true, but it works, so we use it.  It is probably correct.  No good alternatives have ever been figured out, so until then, the current model is what we accept for lack of anything better.

    Is it "true, real"?  Well, I can't prove it isn't, and I have lots of reasons to accept that it is.  Still doesn't prove it as true.  Just the best answer we can come up with.

  • Dixon
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    The investigation of the insides of atoms was a process that took several decades of the early 20th century and to some extent the fine details are still work in progress, so there is no quick answer. If you really want to know all about it I suggest looking on YouTube for material at your level.

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  • Sky
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    You would really have to ask a nuclear physicist, or at least a physics professor, rather than unqualified crowd on Y!A.  The amount of information it would take to describe the equipment, experiments, observations, and verification of atomic imaging, atomic structure, subatomic particles, and so on would be far more than what could be written here.

  • 10 months ago

    But. single atoms can be seen and placed around. Not with our eyes or fingers.

    Source(s): They call them spheres, but they aren't like m&m's. You can't split apart an atom like an M&M. at that point you have to change how you look at it.
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