Electron discovered by Joseph Thomson

(122 words)
  • Editors

Historical Context Note

In the 1890s, physicists were debating whether there existed any particle smaller than the atom, and if how, what it was. Previous scientists had imagined that the smallest possible particle was a hydrogen atom (also now known as a single proton). The British physicist J. J. Thomson was the first to suggest that a particle might exist that was less than a thousandth of the size of a proton. By experimenting with the rays that were emitted from cathodes (the electrode attached to the negative end of a voltage supply), he found that these rays were vastly less heavy than even hydrogen atoms. He initially called these tiny, negatively charged particles 'corpuscles', but they became known by the preferred name of 'electrons'.

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Editors. "Electron discovered by Joseph Thomson". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 August 2013
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=6379, accessed 07 May 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. Victorian Scientific Thought and Applications