Ernest Rutherford, caricature

Ernest Rutherford, caricature

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Caption: Ernest Rutherford. Caricature of the New Zealand nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) with an electron orbiting his head. This represents his contributions to the understanding of atomic structure and radioactivity. To study atomic nuclei, in 1909 he fired helium ions (alpha particles) at thin gold foil and observed the scattering pattern. A few particles were deflected by large amounts, implying that the atomic nucleus is very small and positively charged. He won the 1908 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for showing that radioactivity was the spontaneous decay of atoms, and that the time taken for half a radioactive sample to decay was constant (the half life).

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