Home Rutherford scattering
Inside
the Nucleus
Wave
or Particle?
Deep inelastic scattering
SLAC
HERA
ZEUS
Event pictures
More Examples
Identifying events
Useful links
Credits
If you want to know more
Fundamental particles
Scattering
Cross section
Energy units
Virtual
photons
Rutherford's
Notebook

Crosssection
When we talk about Rutherford scattering we refer to
something called the differential crosssection, but what does this mean?
If you consider a normal crosssection, of say a ball then as you increase the radius of
the ball so the crosssection will increase. If you then fire a very small target ball
towards the first ball, then as the crosssection increases so the chance that the two
balls will hit goes up. This is similar to particle scattering experiments where the
larger the crosssection of the target the more likely the incident particle is to scatter
off it. However, the target cannot be treated as a solid ball, more as a cloudy ball so
that the crosssection is similar to the probability of the projectile scattering off the
target. There are also many angles that the incident particle can be scattered to, this is
where the idea of a differential crosssection comes in. This is the probability
that the incident particle will be scattered to a particular angle, not that it is just
scattered. 