Zealand to New Zealand, Rutherford to protons

Zealand to New Zealand, Rutherford to protons 0

If there’s a New Zealand there’s got to be an old one. We keep a lot of old things around, even countries and cities. A little later in this post I’m going to talk about a New Zealander named Ernest Rutherford. He did an amazing experiment. His “microscope” was as phenomenal as the LHC….Large Hadron Collider. And to me my little light microscope is pretty amazing but worlds apart from subatomic particle microscopes.

Back to part of the post title, Zealand. This is where I started getting confused. But let me try to explain this. Zealand is the largest island in Denmark. It’s Danish. Not Dutch. If you are from the Netherlands, you’re referred to as Dutch (apparently Dutch people are really a native ethnic group from the Netherlands). Let’s not go any further because I’m sure I’ll probably say something that isn’t correct (right). But there are some very famous Dutch people…very famous….van Gogh is probably someone practically everyone knows about.

On to Ernest Rutherford who is neither Dutch nor Dane. He was born in New Zealand however (a Kiwi 🙂 ). And what his microscope did (in the UK) was find that the center of the atom (we call the nucleus) had a positive charge. If you remember anything about an atom, you probably remember that electrons carry a negative charge and the protons (in the nucleus) have a positive charge. It makes you wonder how over 100 years ago someone figured that out. To me it just doesn’t seem like someone without an iphone could possibly have figured that out. I know that sounded stupid but it’s just amazing what science has known for a long time. You know where we stand…on the shoulders…..

A tad bit more about his “microscope.” There is no way to see an atom with ordinary light. An atom is too small to see with visible wavelengths. He sent alpha particles (radium decayed positively charged helium particles that had no electrons) through a thin sheet of gold and measured what came out on the other side. He also measured what was reflected and didn’t go through. That was his microscope. He expected all the alpha particles would go through the other side but not all did. Some bounced back. Remember, positive repels positive. But there is a large empty space in an atom so most particles went through. And just remember, any ordinary light hitting a thin sheet of gold doesn’t go through the gold. It takes a way smaller particle to do that.

So, a patient I had some years ago had a tumor in his eye. I found it and took a picture of it. Showed it to the patient.  He ended up seeing a doctor somewhere in California for proton beam radiation treatment. Yep, thanks to all the scientific discoveries, protons were eventually harnessed for our benefit. And thanks to the Zealands, new and old. May they keep adding on to our rich wealth of history and discovery.

Here’s a fun website that compares the various sizes of things in our universe…big to small. http://htwins.net/scale2/


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Out of the blue

Out of the blue 0

I tried to figure out who first thought of that phrase. Doesn’t matter though. But my whole blog has to do with it. I am not the first to find any of these things out obviously. I’m only making simple observations that all of a sudden are striking me as extremely profound (not my observations but the things I’m learning). As a matter of fact, many of these things I’m learning about were discovered hundreds of years ago. I’m so far behind!

How many times do you realize the world is boundlessly complex? And how do we deal with that thought? We like our familiar and comfortable and only rarely leave that nest that’s cozy and warm and protective. Here’s an out of the blue observation. You remember those high school girls and 1 guy in New York that all of a sudden developed tics of some sort?  Apparently everyone has practically recovered from that except one person and it wasn’t due to a chemical spill 40 years before in the area. It was a conversion disorder. Those kids had a reaction to something very unfamiliar to them and their response was psychosomatic. Kinda sad that that was the reaction and the hysteria that surrounded the whole affair.

Here’s another reaction to something profound. It’s called Stendahl Syndrome. A person could be “exposed” to a  particularly beautiful piece of art and then become dizzy or faint. I think I know the feeling.  It’s not really art but it’s a lot of things for me. It’s music, it’s someone’s writing, it’s a thought or a discovery of something new to me. What is my response? It’s this blog. It’s blog syndrome?

I think we all know about Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. What you might not know is they held back their thoughts and writings until they were convinced that people could handle or needed to know the information. There was also the worry of persecution. But their revelations were out of the blue. Does anyone ever have the thought, “why didn’t I think of that?” What seems so logical but at the same time is just so ordinary that we don’t think about it, bothers me! Why do we not easily understand the things that make the world go ’round?

I bought a microscope. Yes, whoop de do. But when is the last time you looked at a paramecium or anything else in your own backyard that you just take for granted? Get back to me if you found out something new, would ya please? And hopefully you won’t develop some syndrome like me 🙂 Or, hopefully you will 🙂


Finally, a lot of blue back in Colorado today (not all of it sky)….

Colorado blue skies

Colorado blue skies


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