Atomic Structure Quotes (4 quotes)
In the light of [current research on atomic structure] the physicists have, I think, some justification for their faith that they are building on the solid rock of fact, and not, as we are often so solemnly warned by some of our scientific brethren, on the shifting sands of imaginative hypothesis.
In the year 1902 (while I was attempting to explain to an elementary class in chemistry some of the ideas involved in the periodic law) becoming interested in the new theory of the electron, and combining this idea with those which are implied in the periodic classification, I formed an idea of the inner structure of the atom which, although it contained certain crudities, I have ever since regarded as representing essentially the arrangement of electrons in the atom ... In accordance with the idea of Mendeleef, that hydrogen is the first member of a full period, I erroneously assumed helium to have a shell of eight electrons. Regarding the disposition in the positive charge which balanced the electrons in the neutral atom, my ideas were very vague; I believed I inclined at that time toward the idea that the positive charge was also made up of discrete particles, the localization of which determined the localization of the electrons.
Much scientific truth proved to be as hypothetical as poetic allegory. The relationshiip of those rod-connected blue and red balls to an actual atomic structure was about the same as the relationship of Christianity to the fish or the Lamb.
The examination of crystal structure, with the aid of X-rays has given us for the first time an insight into the actual arrangement of the atoms in solid bodies. The study of structure by means of a microscope is limited by the coarseness of the light which illuminates the object, for we can never hope to see details smaller than the wavelength of the light. By using X-rays with their very short wavelengths, this limit of minuteness has at one step been decreased ten thousand times, for the wavelength of the X-rays is of a smaller order than the dimensions of the atomic structure. We are actually looking into the interior of the molecule and the atom with this fine-grained form of light.