Too Small to See

November 23, 2011
It's been 100 years since Ernest Rutherford and his lab associates fired helium atoms -- stripped of their electrons -- at a thin sheet of gold, and were shocked to see the atoms bounce back. Rutherford said the results were akin to a bullet bouncing off tissue paper. He realized he'd been given a clue about the structure of the atom -- an object too small to see with light -- and a glimpse into the quantum world.