search for
Teaching Atomic Models: Revisited
New Phys.: Sae Mulli 2020; 70: 168~174
Published online February 28, 2020;
© 2020 New Physics: Sae Mulli.

Min Seok SEO1, Kang Young LEE*2

1Sunam Middle School, Gimhae 51018, Korea
2Department of Physics Education & Education Research Institute, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju 52828, Korea
Correspondence to:
Received October 5, 2019; Revised December 4, 2019; Accepted December 26, 2019.
cc This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Among the atomic models proposed in the early 20th century, Rutherford’s atomic model with a tiny and heavy nucleus surrounded by light electrons, suggested by the experimental discovery of the atomic nucleus, is the basis of the present picture of the atom. We discuss the validity of the atomic model theoretically in this paper. The fact that the nucleus is much smaller than the atom and is just an accidental result of the observation that the nuclear force is much stronger than the electromagnetic force. Thus, a bigger nucleus would be physically allowed if the strong force were weaker. We show that the atom may look like Thompson’s plum-pudding model when the strong interaction is so weak that the nucleus is as large as the atom. We use Bohr’s atomic model first and solve the Schrodinger equation to confirm it. Eventually, Rutherford’s atomic model with a small nucleus is preferred by the relative strength of the strong force to that of the electromagnetic force. To reach a deeper understanding of the atom, we propose teaching the implications of a tiny nucleus.
PACS numbers: 01.55.+b, 03.65.-w, 01.40.-d
Keywords: Physics education, Atomic model, Atomic nucleus

March 2020, 70 (3)
  • Scopus
  • CrossMark