PROF. PETER FOWLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PROF. PETER FOWLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The New Zealand born physicist Sir Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) and his wife Mary Newton at Trinity College in Cambridge (1921). He identified three types of radiations produced by radioactive decay which he called alpha, beta and gamma rays. He later proved that alpha rays were helium nuclei. In 1911 he elaborated a model in which the positive charge of the atom (protons) was concentrated in a very small region, the nucleus. He also showed that the structure of an atom could be changed (nuclear transmutation) by bombarding it with alpha particles. He is considered to be the father of nuclear physics and in 1908 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry.
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