Coronavirus (COVID-19) While museums are closed, the Science and Society Picture Library prints site is fully operational and we have added an FAQ page here.

J J Thomson's cathode ray tube, 1897.

J J Thomson's cathode ray tube, 1897.
3 4 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 26cm


This apparatus was used to discover the electron. In 1896, in Cambridge, Joseph John Thomson (1856-1940) began experiments on cathode rays. In Britain, physicists argued 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.

Image Details

Image Ref.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

buy a print

Select size
Select finish
How many prints?

buy a framed print

buy a canvas

buy a framed canvas