Science: The Heart of the Atom

It seemed that the atom—already split, measured, analyzed, and prodded by great machines—had few secrets left. Scientists were almost agreed that the atomic nucleus (one-trillionth the size of an atom) is a solid sphere. Now Stanford University Physicist Robert Hofstadter and his assistants have examined the nucleus and found more space in the atom's heart than anyone had guessed.

The Stanford scientists made their find with the most powerful "microscope" known to science. Its "eyepiece" is a 2½-ton magnet, its light source a giant accelerator that spews electrons in a thin stream. Fired at sheets of metal foil, the electrons whip through...

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