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What is impact parameter?

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Impact parameter is the perpendicular distance between the velocity vectors of two objects (considered to take part in a collision) when they are at infinite distance (at such a distance that there is no interaction between the two particles)


In Rutherford’s alpha scattering experiment, the gold nucleus is at rest and therefore, in this case

Impact parameter is the perpendicular distance between the gold nucleus and the the direction of the velocity vector of alpha particle when the alpha particle is at infinite distance (i.e; the force of interaction between the gold nucleus and the alpha particle is negligibly small)


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