ernest rutherford

  • scholarship

    1851 Exhibition Science Scholarship, enabling him to go to Trinity College, Cambridge, as a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory under J.J. Thomson.
  • bday

    Ernest Rutherford was born on August 30, 1871 in Nelson, New Zealand, the fourth child and second son in a family of seven sons and five daughters. His father James Rutherford, a Scottish wheelwright, emigrated to New Zealand with Ernest's grandfather and the whole family in 1842. His mother, née Martha Thompson, was an English schoolteacher, who, with her widowed mother, also went to live there in 1855.
  • school

    Ernest received his early education in Government schools and at the age of 16 entered Nelson Collegiate School. In 1889 he was awarded a University scholarship and he proceeded to the University of New Zealand, Wellington, where he entered Canterbury College*
  • college

    He graduated M.A. in 1893 with a double first in Mathematics and Physical Science and he continued with research work at the College for a short time, receiving the B.Sc. degree the following year.
  • ...

    In 1899 Ernest Rutherford studied the absorption of radioactivity by thin sheets of metal foil and found two components: alpha (a) radiation, which is absorbed by a few thousandths of a centimeter of metal foil, and beta (b) radiation, which can pass through 100 times as much foil before it was absorbed. Shortly thereafter, a third form of radiation, named gamma (g) rays, was discovered that can penetrate as much as several centimeters of lead.
  • smart suff

    Before he could study the effect of -particles on matter, Rutherford had to develop a way of counting individual -particles. He found that a screen coated with zinc sulfide emitted a flash of light each time it was hit by an -particle. Rutherford and his assistant, Hans Geiger, would sit in the dark until his eyes became sensitive enough. They would then try to count the flashes of light given off by the ZnS screen.
  • more smart suff

    Rutherford found that a narrow beam of -particles was broadened when it passed through a thin film of mica or metal. He therefore had Geiger measure the angle through which these -particles were scattered by a thin piece of metal foil. Because it is unusually ductile, gold can be made into a foil that is only 0.00004 cm thick. When this foil was bombarded with -particles, Geiger found that the scattering was small, on the order of one degree.
  • ...

    Rutherford was the first to establish the theory of the nuclear atom and to carry out a transmutation reaction (1919) (formation of hydrogen and and oxygen isotope by bombardment of nitrogen with alpha particles). Uranium emanations were shown to consist of three types of rays, alpha (helium nuclei) of low penetrating power, beta (electrons), and gamma, of exceedingly short wavelength and great energy.
  • die

    Ernest Rutherford died October 19, 1937