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The Discovery of the Electron
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Center for History of Physics



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American Institute of Physics

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About this exhibit: "The Discovery of the Electron" was produced to commemorate the 100th anniversary of J.J. Thomson's groundbreaking experiments. The work was supported by the American Institute of Physics and by the Friends of the Center for History of Physics.

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For advice we thank Per Dahl, Allan Franklin and Robert Rynasiewicz. Audio page by Drew Arrowood. Photo credits: see individual pages.

All material on this site copyright ©1997 American Institute of Physics.
This site created 3/97, updated 11/02


Table of Contents:

Exhibit Home
J.J. Thomson
Mysterious Rays
1897 Experiments
Corpuscles to Electrons
Legacy for Today
Exhibit Info

More on the Electron:

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Suggested Readings -- easiest to hardest:

  • Samuel Devons, "The Body Electric," The Sciences, vol. 37, no. 2 (March/April 1997), pp. 26-31.
  • George P. Thomson, J. J. Thomson and the Cavendish Laboratory in his Day. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1964.
  • "100 Years of Particle Physics" articles in Stanford Linear Accelerator Center Beam Line, vol. 27, no. 1 (Spring 1997); you can download PDF file.
  • Allan Franklin, "Are There Really Electrons? Experiment and Reality," Physics Today, vol. 50, no. 10 (October 1997), pp. 26-33.
  • [John W. Strutt,] Lord Rayleigh, The Life of Sir J. J. Thomson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1943.
  • Per F. Dahl, Flash of the Cathode Rays: A History of J.J. Thomson's Electron London: Institute of Physics, 1997.
  • E.A. Davis and Isabel Falconer, J.J. Thompson and the Discovery of the Electron. Bristol, PA: Taylor & Francis, 1997.
  • David Anderson, The Discovery of the Electron. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1964.
  • Jed Z. Buchwald and Andrew Warwick, eds., Histories of the Electron: The Birth of Microphysics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.
  • Isobel Falconer, "Corpuscles, Electrons, and Cathode Rays: J.J. Thomson and the 'Discovery of the Electron'," British Journal for the History of Science, vol. 20 (1987), pp. 241-276.

1997- American Institute of Physics