Ernest Rutherford, British physicist

Ernest Rutherford, British physicist

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Caption: Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937, centre), New Zealand-born British physicist. Rutherford's work contributed to the understanding of atomic structure. 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). Photographed in his laboratory at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, in 1905.

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