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The Experimental Foundations of Particle Physics, Second Edition by Gerson Goldhaber, Robert N. Cahn

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The Atom Completed and a New Particle

The origins of particle physics: The atom, radioactivity, and the discovery of the neutron and the positron, 1895–1933.

The fundamental achievement of physical science is the atomic model of matter. That model is simplicity itself. All matter is composed of atoms, which themselves form aggregates called molecules. An atom contains a positive nucleus very much smaller than the full atom. A nucleus with atomic mass A contains Z protons and A − Z neutrons. The neutral atom has, as well, Z electrons, each with a mass only 1/1836 that of a proton. The chemical properties of the atom are determined by Z; atoms with equal Z but differing A have the same chemistry and are known as isotopes.

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