4/21/2011

Ernest Rutherford's Biography

Lord Rutherford
(1871-1937)
A Portrait I was once again struck, in my review of Rutherford's life, of how many great persons in history have had simple beginnings. Though he was to become one of the greatest pioneers of subatomic physics, Ernest Rutherford came from simple people, a family with "heart, head, hand." He was born in Spring Grove, South Island, New Zealand, the fourth of twelve children. His father was a "wheelwright and flaxmiller." Whether in spite of, or because of these humble circumstances, Ernest got a proper start in life. He first attended state schools, then, with the assistance of scholarships, went off to Canterbury College, Christchurch, where undoubtedly he was exposed to a liberal education. In 1892, Rutherford, having majored in mathematics and physics, graduated from Canterbury.
Young Rutherford stayed on at Canterbury College for a further year, teaching and studying. His studies that year included a study on the properties of iron in high-frequency alternating magnetic fields; he was to publish the results. Soon, he received an invitation from Cambridge which brought him off to England. He arrived at Cambridge (Trinity) in 1895 and began to work under "J.J." Thomson at the prestigious Cavendish Laboratory. There he was to work on electromagnetic waves.
In 1898, the 27 year old Rutherford came to Canada to head up the physics department of McGill University, Montreal. McGill then became the hotbed for early work in subatomic physics. Rutherford and his team were on the forefront of a new science. The research carried out revolved around the investigation into the phenomenon of natural radiation, a form of which, the x-ray, had been spoken of by Röntgen at a meeting of the Physio-Medical Society of Würzburg in 1895.  Just what were these rays that were capable of passing in various degrees through many substances impervious to light? This was the central question for Rutherford during his McGill days.
In 1907, Rutherford returned to England to accept a chair at the University of Manchester. Here, at Manchester, Rutherford continued his work on the various forms of radiation. It was here, too, at Manchester, that Rutherford was to work with Hans Geiger (1882-1945), who had developed a method of detecting the emitted particles, and, to count them. By 1910, Rutherford was beginning to understand the nature of the inner structure of the atom which led him to postulate the existence within the atom of a concentrated part, the "nucleus": this, indeed, was to be Rutherford's greatest contribution to physics. "This," as we find in Chambers, "Led to a revolutionary conception of the atom as a miniature universe in which the mass is concentrated in the nucleus surrounded by planetary electrons."  In turn, during 1920, Rutherford was to predict the existence of the neutron, which, a colleague of his, Sir James Chadwick (1891-1974), was to in fact to discover in 1932, and for which Chadwick was to receive a Nobel in 1935.
In 1908, Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for "his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances." It was somewhat surprising to hear that Rutherford, the physicist, was to win the prize in chemistry, rather than in physics. As Rutherford's biographer, Norman Feather, was to point out, it probably was an error on the part of those at Stockholm, as, Rutherford ought to have won the prize in physics rather than in chemistry. But, while the fields of chemistry and physics up to Rutherford's time were clear enough, nuclear physics might have just as easily been called nuclear chemistry; the new science, as an official of the Swedish Academy was to say at the time, was "neither physics nor chemistry, yet which is, at the same time, both physics and chemistry."
During the first World War, Rutherford worked on the practical problem of submarine detection by underwater acoustics. In his later years, Rutherford was to accept an invitation, 1919, to become the Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge.
In addition to 150 original papers, Rutherford was to publish a number of books, including: Radioactivity (1904); Radioactive Transformations (1906), The Electrical Structure of Matter (1926), The Artificial Transmutation of the Elements (1933) and The Newer Alchemy (1937). In addition to being knighted in 1914 and being made a Lord of the realm in 1931, Rutherford was to take responsible positions in a number of learned societies including his presidency of the Royal Society from 1925 to 1930. He counted among his rewards: the Rumford Medal (1905) and the Copley Medal (1922), the Bressa Prize (1910), the Albert Medal (1928), the Faraday Medal (1930); and, so too, numerous honorary doctorates from Universities all over the world.
"Rutherford led us to the confines of knowledge in respect of the ultimate structure and constitution of matter ... he opened a new world, the world of the atomic nucleus, for the exploration of which new experimental techniques were required, and for the description of which a new language."
At the age of 66, at Cambridge, Rutherford was to die and his ashes were placed in Westminster Abbey not far from the remains of Newton and Kelvin.

source : Biographies

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4/21/2011

Ernest Rutherford's Biography

Lord Rutherford
(1871-1937)
A Portrait I was once again struck, in my review of Rutherford's life, of how many great persons in history have had simple beginnings. Though he was to become one of the greatest pioneers of subatomic physics, Ernest Rutherford came from simple people, a family with "heart, head, hand." He was born in Spring Grove, South Island, New Zealand, the fourth of twelve children. His father was a "wheelwright and flaxmiller." Whether in spite of, or because of these humble circumstances, Ernest got a proper start in life. He first attended state schools, then, with the assistance of scholarships, went off to Canterbury College, Christchurch, where undoubtedly he was exposed to a liberal education. In 1892, Rutherford, having majored in mathematics and physics, graduated from Canterbury.
Young Rutherford stayed on at Canterbury College for a further year, teaching and studying. His studies that year included a study on the properties of iron in high-frequency alternating magnetic fields; he was to publish the results. Soon, he received an invitation from Cambridge which brought him off to England. He arrived at Cambridge (Trinity) in 1895 and began to work under "J.J." Thomson at the prestigious Cavendish Laboratory. There he was to work on electromagnetic waves.
In 1898, the 27 year old Rutherford came to Canada to head up the physics department of McGill University, Montreal. McGill then became the hotbed for early work in subatomic physics. Rutherford and his team were on the forefront of a new science. The research carried out revolved around the investigation into the phenomenon of natural radiation, a form of which, the x-ray, had been spoken of by Röntgen at a meeting of the Physio-Medical Society of Würzburg in 1895.  Just what were these rays that were capable of passing in various degrees through many substances impervious to light? This was the central question for Rutherford during his McGill days.
In 1907, Rutherford returned to England to accept a chair at the University of Manchester. Here, at Manchester, Rutherford continued his work on the various forms of radiation. It was here, too, at Manchester, that Rutherford was to work with Hans Geiger (1882-1945), who had developed a method of detecting the emitted particles, and, to count them. By 1910, Rutherford was beginning to understand the nature of the inner structure of the atom which led him to postulate the existence within the atom of a concentrated part, the "nucleus": this, indeed, was to be Rutherford's greatest contribution to physics. "This," as we find in Chambers, "Led to a revolutionary conception of the atom as a miniature universe in which the mass is concentrated in the nucleus surrounded by planetary electrons."  In turn, during 1920, Rutherford was to predict the existence of the neutron, which, a colleague of his, Sir James Chadwick (1891-1974), was to in fact to discover in 1932, and for which Chadwick was to receive a Nobel in 1935.
In 1908, Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for "his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances." It was somewhat surprising to hear that Rutherford, the physicist, was to win the prize in chemistry, rather than in physics. As Rutherford's biographer, Norman Feather, was to point out, it probably was an error on the part of those at Stockholm, as, Rutherford ought to have won the prize in physics rather than in chemistry. But, while the fields of chemistry and physics up to Rutherford's time were clear enough, nuclear physics might have just as easily been called nuclear chemistry; the new science, as an official of the Swedish Academy was to say at the time, was "neither physics nor chemistry, yet which is, at the same time, both physics and chemistry."
During the first World War, Rutherford worked on the practical problem of submarine detection by underwater acoustics. In his later years, Rutherford was to accept an invitation, 1919, to become the Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge.
In addition to 150 original papers, Rutherford was to publish a number of books, including: Radioactivity (1904); Radioactive Transformations (1906), The Electrical Structure of Matter (1926), The Artificial Transmutation of the Elements (1933) and The Newer Alchemy (1937). In addition to being knighted in 1914 and being made a Lord of the realm in 1931, Rutherford was to take responsible positions in a number of learned societies including his presidency of the Royal Society from 1925 to 1930. He counted among his rewards: the Rumford Medal (1905) and the Copley Medal (1922), the Bressa Prize (1910), the Albert Medal (1928), the Faraday Medal (1930); and, so too, numerous honorary doctorates from Universities all over the world.
"Rutherford led us to the confines of knowledge in respect of the ultimate structure and constitution of matter ... he opened a new world, the world of the atomic nucleus, for the exploration of which new experimental techniques were required, and for the description of which a new language."
At the age of 66, at Cambridge, Rutherford was to die and his ashes were placed in Westminster Abbey not far from the remains of Newton and Kelvin.

source : Biographies

Related posts :