Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand physicist

Ernest Rutherford, New Zealand physicist

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Credit: MCGILL UNIVERSITY, RUTHERFORD MUSEUM/EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Sir Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), New Zealand physicist, in a laboratory at McGill University, Canada, in 1905. Rutherford left New Zealand in 1894 to study at Cambridge University, England. He then worked in Canada from 1898, before moving to Manchester University, England, in 1907. He won the 1908 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on radioactivity at McGill University. This work included the discovery that the time taken for half a radioactive sample to decay was constant (the half life). In 1909, in Manchester, two of Rutherford's students carried out the famous gold foil experiment that showed that the atomic nucleus is very small and positively charged. Rutherford was knighted in 1914. In 1919 he became Professor of Physics at Cambridge University. He was created Baron Rutherford in 1931.

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