An illustration of the apparatus used by Thomson to discover the electron, taken from his paper in 'Phil Mag' (1897). In 1896, in Cambridge, (Sir) Joseph John Thomson (1856-1940) began experiments on cathode rays. In Britain, physicists argued that these rays were particles, but German physicists disagreed, thinking they were a type of electromagnetic radiation. Thomson showed that the cathode rays were particles with a negative charge and much smaller than an atom. He published this information in April 1897; the particles were later named electrons.
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