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 Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford

Birth
Brightwater, Tasman District, Tasman, New Zealand
Death 19 Oct 1937 (aged 66)
Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Burial Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 1384 · View Source
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Physicist. Considered by many to be the father of nuclear physics. He was born and grew up on a farm in New Zealand where he was one of twelve children. Here he learned the value of hard work and received his early education in Government schools. He was graduated M.A. in 1893 from Canterbury College of the University of New Zealand with a double first in Mathematics and Physical Science. Awarded an 1851 Exhibition Science Scholarship in 1894 which enabled him to go to Trinity College, Cambridge. This was a turning point where he would meet J. Thomson, who discovered the electron shortly thereafter, and who would encourage him to study the recently-discovered x-rays. In 1898 he left for Canada to take the Macdonald Chair of Physics at McGill University in Montreal. He returned to England in 1907 first to academic positions the University of Manchester and later to Cambridge. His theories were considered by many scientists of the day to be mere alchemy. But by 1904 the work and energy of this researcher started to gain recognition. Together with Hans Geiger he set up a center for the study of radiation at the University of Manchester. His experiments were to change the face of physics. He received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1908 for his model of the atom for which he discovered the atomic nucleus. During World War I, for a time he helped the British Admiralty with problems of submarine detection. When he returned to the lab it was not long before he became the first human to create a "nuclear reaction." The particle that he dislodged had a positive charge, determining that it came from the nucleus so he named this new particle a proton. He also coined the terms Alpha, beta and gamma rays, half-life and daughter atoms. Several of the last century's greats in physics studied with him. He was married to Mary Newton, only daughter of Arthur and Mary deRenzy Newton and their only child, Eileen, married the physicist R.H. Fowler. Knighted in 1914 and in 1931 he was made the first Baron Rutherford of Nelson, which allowed him to join the House of Lords. His strong anti-Nazi views led him to serve as president of the Academic Assistance Council to help German refugees. He died in Cambridge and his ashes were buried in the nave of Westminster Abbey near those of Sir Isaac Newton and next to those of Lord Kelvin.

Bio by: D C McJonathan-Swarm


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1384
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ernest Rutherford (30 Aug 1871–19 Oct 1937), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1384, citing Westminster Abbey, Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .