Ernest Rutherford: The Father Of Nuclear Physics

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Kinzy Mathis
10 November, 2017
Physics I

Ernest Rutherford

“All science is either physics or stamp collecting”
-Ernest Rutherford Ernest Rutherford, also known as the father of nuclear physics, led the world in the study of nuclear physics and radioactivity. He was a pioneer in the physics world and was a vital piece in discovering most of the information we know about physics today. Not only was he a world renowned physicist, he was also a prominent chemist who was famous for his theory of atomic structure. Coming from a large, poor family, he was forced to think outside the box from a young age when it came to earning money or finding activities to occupy his time. Considered the greatest experimentalist since Michael Faraday, Ernest
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He lived there and attended school until 1889 when he was awarded an academic scholarship to the University of New Zealand at Wellington. While there he attended the Canterbury College branch to study mathematics and physical science. He double majored in these two subjects and received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in 1893. The following year, he acquired a Bachelor of Science degree while doing research on the ability of high-frequency electrical discharge to magnetize iron. Shortly after this, he fell in love with Mary Newton. The couple married in 1900 and had a daughter named Eileen soon after. In 1894, he was granted another scholarship to attend Trinity College, Cambridge, to work with J.J. Thomson, the man who discovered the electron. He was the first research student at Trinity and in his first research assignment he uncovered a more efficient way of detecting radio waves than that of Heinrich Hertz. After hearing of his success on this work, Thomson invited Rutherford to study the effects of x-rays on the conductivity of gasses with their research being centered on the splitting of atoms and molecules into ions. It was after this that Rutherford moved on to his research on ion-producing radiations focusing on uranium and the ability of the radiation it produces to penetrate foil. This work led him to the discovery of alpha and beta radiation and ignited a…show more content…
This work catapulted his career as an experimentalist and captivated the minds of many great physicists. After discovering these particles by using an electrometer to measure electric current created by radiation, Rutherford wished to leave radio-chemistry behind and get back into the physics world; he began by using his latest discovery to learn about atoms and their structures. Before he could do this, he needed to learn more about the behavior and structure of the alpha particles. Ernest and his partner Hans Geiger developed a machine that could aid in the counting of alpha particles called the Geiger Counter. The men applied a voltage to a metal cylinder with a wire running through its center, then allowed particles to pass through a small window where they created gas ions by colliding with gasses. This created a flow of ions resulting in the passage of a single alpha particle that could be counted and observed. In order to prove his hypothesis that alpha particles were Helium atoms stripped of their electrons, Rutherford developed an experiment by trapping particles in a glass container, compressing them, and adding a spark. He then studied the light spectrum produced and found it was exactly the same as the spectrum for Helium. This earned Rutherford the Nobel Prize in
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