A Life of Science

The History of Ernest Rutherford

Until the early to mid 1960's, chemistry was not studied as a separate intellectual discipline and rigorous chemical experiments were not performed. Since this time, many brilliant minds have served to develope the field of Chemistry; thus enlightening us all on how the world works. These minds I refer to belong to those such as: Robert Boyle (1627-1691), J.J. Thomson (1856-1940), R. A. Millikan (1868-1953), John Dalton (1766-1844), and of course Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937).

Rutherford was born on a farm in New Zealand as the second of twelve children. From these humble beginnings he went off to make some of the most profound discoveries in the fields of radioactivity and nuclear physics. He discovered both alpha and beta rays, stipulated the laws of radioactive decay, and discovered the nuclear structure of an atom (meaning the nucleus and its components: protons and neutrons) by means of his famous gold foil experiment.

For his lifetime of accomplishments, Rutherford received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 1908, earned 21 honorary degrees, was named Baron Rutherford of Nelson in 1931 , appeared in the House of Lords, and was finally buried in Westminster Abbey near the tombs of Isaac Newton and Lord Kelvin after his death on October 19, 1937. This small list of accomplishments can not do justice to the full extent at which Rutherford lived his life. Therefore this web page is dedicated to the task of elaborating not only on Rutherford's experiments and discoveries but on his personal life as well. To make navigation through this site a bit easier, the contents of this page have been listed below. Hopefully this information will prove to be both interesting and enlightening to all those that visit this page.