Ernest Rutherford

Satisfactory Essays
Ernest Rutherford

Born on August 30th, 1871 in New Zealand, Ernest Rutherford accomplished to be one of many successful chemists throughout the world in the 19th and the 20th centuries. With his brilliant experiments he explained the puzzling problem of radioactivity and the sudden breakdown of atoms. In addition, he determined the structure of the atom and was first to ever split it. Rutherford's great mind triggered innovations of new technology such as the smoke detector that saves many lives today.

Ernest Rutherford's family consisted of twelve children, Ernest was the fourth oldest. His parents, James and Martha Rutherford were middle class people. Martha was a school teacher, therefore Ernest and the other eleven children always received good education, and were encouraged to study instead of working. Ernest did exceptionally well in school, but he exceeded in Science. At the age of ten he received his first science book. Inspired by the book he tried to create different sorts of experiments, for an example a miniature cannon that did not become successful but was a work of his imagination. At the age of sixteen, Ernest received a scholarship to attend Nelson College, there he did above all others and still had time to become the captain of the rugby team. He later attended the Canterbury College where he further improved his mathematical and arithmetical skills. Through excellent work in Canterbury College, Ernest won a national scholarship to the University of New Zealand. In this University he got his masters degree in mathematics and physics. He was then ready to put his skills to work and apply his studies to create something great.

At the age of 23, in 1895 Ernest left to England. In England he studied at the University of Cambridge for three years. Working with Professor J.J. Thomson at the Cavendish Laboratory Ernest researched the "conduction of electricity" which provided help for Professor J. Thomson's discovery of an electron. With this at hand, Ernest discovered two "charges" that were being released from radioactive atoms which he discovered in 1896 himself, he named these "charges" alpha and beta rays. His other discoveries included "ingenious techniques to study the mechanism whereby normally insulating gases become electrical conductors when a high voltage is applied across them." When X-rays were discovered, he used them to initiate electrical conduction in gases.
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