Sir Ernest Rutherford, British physicist

Sir Ernest Rutherford, British physicist

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Credit: USA LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), New Zealand-born nuclear physicist. Knighted in 1914, and winning the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1908, Sir Ernest Rutherford left his native New Zealand after earning a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1851. In 1919 he was invited to become the Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge University. His most important work was on the structure of the atom and radioactivity; identifying the latter as an atomic process and developing methods for studying alpha radiation, which he proved was helium atoms deprived of two electrons. His work led him to conclude that atoms held most of their mass in a central nucleus.

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