iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for The Electron

Listen now 15 mins

Listen in pop-out player

The Electron

Episode 1 of 5

Duration:
15 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 08 September 2008

Simon Singh examines the significance of five subatomic particles in five programmes In the first programme he tells the story of the discovery of the electron.

Just over a century ago, British physicist J.J. Thomson experimenting with electric currents and charged particles inside empty glass tubes, showed that atoms are divisible into indivisible elementary particles. But how could atoms be built up of these so called "corpuscles"? An exciting 30 year race ensued, to grasp the planetary model of the atom with its orbiting electrons, and the view inside the atom was born. Whilst the number of electrons around the nucleus of an atom determines the chemistry of all elements, the power of electrons themselves has been harnessed for everyday use: electron beams for welding,cathode ray tubes and radiation therapy.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

Broadcasts

Featured in...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss