Science: Practical Men at Work

Are atoms all neat round shapes, as shown in the classroom diagrams? Physicist Arthur J. Freeman of the Watertown (Mass.) Arsenal thinks not. Last week, at the American Physical Society meeting at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he presented evidence from recent experiments at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where billions of reactor-bred neutrons were fired at atoms of magnetic iron, nickel and cobalt. According to Dr. Freeman's mathematical analysis, the neutrons bounced off the atoms' electrons in patterns that indicate that the atoms have varying shapes. The nuclei of iron atoms are surrounded by a cloud of electrons in almost the classic...

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