Reading Bill Bryson’s “A short history of nearly everything” and learning a lot from it:

“The picture of an atom that nearly everybody has in mind is of an electron or two flying around a nucleus, like planets orbiting a sun. This image was created in 1904, based on little more than clever guesswork, by a Japanese physicist named Hantaro Nagaoka. It is completely wrong, but durable just the same.

In fact, as physicists were soon to realize, electrons are not like orbiting planets at all, but more like the blades of a spinning fan, managing to fill every bit of space in their orbits simultaneously (but with the crucial difference that the blades of a fan only seem to be everywhere at once; electrons are). p. 184-185.

Popular Science monthly of May 1947, by x-ray delta one on Flickr.com

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