Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson ( born August 30, 1871 in Spring Grove at Nelson, † October 19, 1937 in Cambridge ) was a New Zealand physicist who received the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Rutherford is considered one of the most important experimental physicist.

1897 Rutherford recognized that the ionizing radiation consists of a plurality of particles of uranium. In 1902, he hypothesized that chemical elements pass through radioactive decay into elements of lower atomic number. He shared the 1903 radioactivity in alpha radiation, beta radiation and gamma radiation on the positive, negative, or neutral deflection of the beam particles in a magnetic field and introduced the concept of half-life. This work was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

His most famous contribution to atomic physics is the Rutherford model of the atom, which he derived from his 1911 stray attempts by alpha particles at gold foil. Rutherford disproved the atomic model of Thomson, who was still assume a uniform mass distribution.

Rutherford showed for the first time in 1917 after experimentally that an atomic nucleus by exposure to alpha particles can be transformed into another ( in his case in the nächstschwerere element oxygen) ( in his case nitrogen). In these experiments, he discovered the proton. Under his guidance, " smashed " John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton with artificially accelerated particles have a nucleus; bombarded with protons Lithium split into two alpha particles, ie helium nuclei. Another scientist in Cambridge, James Chadwick, succeeded in 1932 to prove experimentally the neutron, which Rutherford had previously postulated theoretically years.

  • 3.1 Books
  • 3.2 journal articles

Life and work

Background and education

Ernest Rutherford was the fourth of twelve children of James Rutherford (1838-1928) and his wife Martha Thompson ( 1843 - 1935). His parents had immigrated to New Zealand in childhood. From Spring Grove, the family moved in 1876 after Foxhill. There Rutherford visited in March 1877 by Henry Ladley led Primary School. 1883 the family moved on to Havelock, where the father at Ruakaka River ran a flat mill built by him. For economic reasons, the family had to move five years later again, this time to Pungarehu on New Zealand's North Island. Supported by a grant from the Marlborough Education Board attended Rutherford 1887-1889 Nelson College. There he played among others in the rugby team and was head boy in 1889. His interest in mathematics and science was encouraged by his teacher William Still Littlejohn ( 1859-1933 ).

As of February 1890 Rutherford studied at Canterbury College in Christchurch. There, the professor of mathematics and natural philosophy Charles Henry Herbert Cook promoted (1843-1910) Rutherford's mathematical talents, while the Professor of Chemistry Alexander William Bickerton (1842-1929), who also taught physics, Rutherford aroused interest for physics. 1892 Rutherford was the exams for the Bachelor of Arts, 1893, he earned the degree of Master of Arts and a year later the Bachelor of Science. Rutherford's first research dealt with the influence of high-frequency Hertzian waves on the magnetic properties of iron and were published in the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute.

During this time, Rutherford lived in the house of the widowed Mary Kate De Renzy Newton, a secretary of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. There he met his future wife, and their daughter Mary "May" Georgina Newton (1876-1945) know.

Rutherford applied in 1894 to the New Zealand space for a " 1851 Exhibition Scholarship ", a funded from the surplus of the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London scholarship. He was defeated in his bid to the chemist James Scott Maclaurin (1864-1939) from Auckland University College. As the Maclaurin with 150 pounds sterling doped and for a period of study in the UK had no intention of accepting scholarship, it was Rutherford awarded as the second candidate.

On August 1, 1895 Rutherford left from Wellington with a steamboat New Zealand. During a stopover he led William Henry Bragg at the University of Adelaide before his Detector for Hertzian waves and received from Bragg a letter of recommendation. In October 1895 Rutherford began his career at Joseph John Thomson led the Cavendish Laboratory of the University of Cambridge. At first, he dealt with the improvement of the sensitivity of his detector, with which he was able to demonstrate radio waves at a distance of about a half-mile soon. Thomson, Rutherford realized experimental talent quickly, Rutherford invited at the beginning of the Easter term 1896 to assist him in his investigations of the electrical conductivity of gases. They used a few months previously detected x-rays to cause the conductivity of the gases. Rutherford developed experimental techniques to measure the recombination rate and the speed of the resulting X-rays under the influence of ions. In the aftermath Rutherford continued these experiments continue using ultraviolet radiation.

After two years at Cambridge Rutherford in 1897 was awarded the "B. A. Research Degree ". It was through Thomson's intercession, 1898, the doped to 250 pounds per year Coutts- Trotter Fellowship of Trinity College awarded, which enabled Rutherford to spend another year in Cambridge.

Professor in Montreal, Manchester and Cambridge

In 1898 he received an appointment at the McGill University in Montreal ( Canada ), where he worked until 1907. For the research that he did in that time, he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1908.

He then entered the University of Manchester in England to teach, where he worked with Nobel Prize winners later as Niels Bohr and Patrick Blackett.

In 1919 he went as professor to Cambridge, where he was director of the Cavendish Laboratory. 1921 appeared his treatise Nuclear Constitution of Atoms ( German: About the core structure of atoms). From 1925 to 1930 he was president of the Royal Society.

In 1933 he supported William Henry Beveridge at the foundation of the Academic Assistance Council (AAC, now the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics ), whose first president was.

Awards and appreciation

Rutherford is one of the world's most honored scientists. The British Crown Rutherford ennobled in 1914 as a Knight Bachelor, took him in 1925 in the Order of Merit in 1931 and appointed Baron Rutherford.

A newly discovered and described in 1906 by Willy Marckwald uranyl carbonate mineral was given in his honor the name Rutherfordin. In addition to the right conferred on him in 1908 Nobel Prize for Chemistry in Rutherford were given numerous scientific and academic awards and honors. The Royal Society awarded him the Rumford Medal in 1904 and 1922 Rutherford honored with their highest award, the Copley Medal in gold. The Accademia delle Scienze di Torino honored him in 1908 with the award of the Bressa Prize ( Premio Bressa ). The Columbia University gave Rutherford every five years awarded Barnard Medal for the year 1910. 1924 He received the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, 1928, the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts and in 1930 the Faraday Medal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

The Council of the Physical Society of London, founded in 1939, the Rutherford Memorial Lecture (Rutherford Memorial Lecture ) from the 1965 Rutherford Medal and Prize of the price emerged.

Mid-1946 hit Edward Condon and Leon Francis Curtiss ( 1895-1983 ) in front of the U.S. National Bureau of Standards, a new physical unit Rutherford introduce the unit characters around for the measurement of activity, but not by sitting down.

On 3 November 1992, the Bank of New Zealand brought a 100 dollar bill with the portrait of Rutherford in circulation. In his honor, the element 104 in 1997 finally named as rutherfordium.

In the 2005 broadcast series New Zealand 's Top 100 History Makers Rutherford was elected as the most influential New Zealand history. In his birthplace, a memorial and his former elementary school in Foxhill was wont with the " Rutherford Memorial Hall " to his memory.

Writings (selection )

English first editions

  • Radioactive Transformations. Archibald Constable & Co., London 1906 (online).
  • Radiations From Radioactive Substances. University Press, Cambridge, 1930 ( with James Chadwick and Charles Drummond Ellis).
  • Artificial Transmutation of the Elements. Being the Thirty -fifth Robert Boyle Lecture. ( = Robert Boyle Lecture, Volume 35 ), H. Milford, Oxford University Press 1933
  • The Newer Alchemy. University Press, Cambridge, 1937.

German translations

  • Radioactivity. With the collaboration of the author added authorized edition of Emil Aschkinass, Julius Springer, Berlin 1907 (online).
  • Radioactive transformations. Translated by Max Levin, Friedrich Vieweg and Son, Braunschweig 1907 (online).
  • Radioactive substances and their radiations. Translated by Erich Marx, Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, Leipzig 1913.
  • On the core structure of the atoms. Baker's lecture. Authorized translation by Else Norst, Hirzel, Leipzig 1921.

Journal articles

  • Uranium Radiation and the Electrical Conduction Produced by it. In: Philosophical Magazine. Episode 5, Volume 47, Number 284, 1899, pp. 109-163 ( doi: 10.1080/14786449908621245 ).
  • A radio -active Substance Emitted from Thorium Compounds. In: Philosophical Magazine. Episode 5, Volume 49, Number 296, 1900, pp. 1-14 ( doi: 10.1080/14786440009463821 ).
  • Radioactivity produced in Substances by the Action of Thorium Compounds. In: Philosophical Magazine. Episode 5, Volume 49, Number 297, 1900, pp. 161-192 ( doi: 10.1080/14786440009463832 ).
  • Comparison of the Radiations from Radioactive Substances. In: Philosophical Magazine. Episode 6, Volume 4, Number 19, 1902, pp. 1-23 ( with Harriet T. Brooks; doi: 10.1080/14786440209462814 ).
  • The Cause and Nature of Radioactivity. - Part I. In: Philosophical Magazine. Episode 6, Volume 4, Number 21, 1902, pp. 370-396 ( with Frederick Soddy, doi: 10.1080/14786440209462856 ).
  • The Cause and Nature of Radioactivity. - Part II In: Philosophical Magazine. Episode 6, Volume 4, Number 21, 1902, pp. 569-585 ( with Frederick Soddy, doi: 10.1080/14786440209462881 ).
  • The Magnetic and Electric Deviation of the Easily Absorbed Rays from Radium. In: Philosophical Magazine. Episode 6, Volume 5, Number 25, 1903, pp. 177-187 ( doi: 10.1080/14786440309462912 ).
  • A Comparative Study of the Radioactivity of radium and thorium. In: Philosophical Magazine. Episode 6, Volume 5, Number 28, 1903, pp. 445-457 ( with Frederick Soddy, doi: 10.1080/14786440309462943 ).
  • Condensation of the Radioactive Emanations. In: Philosophical Magazine. Episode 6, Volume 5, Number 29, 1903, pp. 561-576 ( with Frederick; doi: 10.1080/14786440309462959 ).