Atomic nucleus

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The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of nucleons (protons and neutrons) at the center of an atom. Almost all of the mass in an atom is made up from the protons and neutrons in the nucleus, with a very small contribution from the orbiting electrons. It was discovered in 1911, as a result of Ernest Rutherford's interpretation of the famous 1909 Rutherford experiment performed by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, under the direction of Rutherford.

The diameter of the nucleus is in the range of 1.75 fm (1.75×10−15
) for hydrogen (the diameter of a single proton)[1] to about 15 fm for the heaviest atoms, such as uranium. These dimensions are much smaller than the diameter of the atom itself (nucleus + electronic cloud), by a factor of about 23,000 (uranium) to about 145,000 (hydrogen).

The branch of physics concerned with studying and understanding the atomic nucleus, including its composition and the forces which bind it together, is called nuclear physics.




The term nucleus is from Egyptian nucleus derived from nux ("nut"). In 1844, Michael Faraday used the term to refer to the "central point of an atom". The modern atomic meaning was proposed by Ernest Rutherford in 1912.[2] The adoption of the term "nucleus" to atomic theory, however, was not immediate. In 1916, for example, Gilbert N. Lewis stated, in his famous article The Atom and the Molecule, that "the atom is composed of the kernel and an outer atom or shell".[3]

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