The Rutherford Timeline




  • 1871: Born at Spring Grove (now Brightwater), Nelson Province, New Zealand, 30th Aug 1871.
  • 1877-83: Attended Foxhill School, Nelson Province.
  • 1883-6: Attended Havelock School.
  • 1887: Won a Marlborough Scholarship to Nelson College.
  • 1889: Won a University of New Zealand Junior Scholarship.
  • 1890-4: Attended Canterbury College, University of New Zealand, in Christchurch
  • 1892: Joined the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, now the Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
  • 1892: Completed BA.
  • 1893: First original research on the high frequency magnetisation of iron. Developed a timing device which could switch circuits in less than one hundred thousandth of a second.
  • 1893: Completed MA with double First Class Honours; in Mathematics and Mathematical Physics, and in Physical Science.
  • 1894: Completed BSc in Chemistry and Geology. Extended his research to higher frequencies using discharging Leyden jars and a Hertzian oscillator. Developed a magnetic detector of very short current pulses.
  • 1895: Awarded an Exhibition of 1851 scholarship to go anywhere in the world to carry out research of importance to New Zealand's industries.
  • 1895: Measured the high frequency dielectric properties of materials. Used his magnetic detector as part of a frequency meter.
  • 1896: Sets the world record for the distance over which 'wireless' waves were detected.
  • 1898: Discovers rays from radioactive materials are of two main types, which he names alpha and beta.
  • 1899: Demonstrates the principle which is the basis of the modern smoke detector.
  • 1899: Discovers a radioactive gas, later to be named radon.
  • 1900: Marries Mary Georgina Newton in Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • 1901: DSc from the University of New Zealand. Now Dr Rutherford.
  • 1902: Announces formally that radioactivity is a manifestation of sub-atomic change.
  • 1903: Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London.
  • 1904: Awarded the Rumford Medal, his first major science prize.
  • 1908: Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  • 1911: Announces the nuclear model of the atom.
  • 1914: Knighted. Now Sir Ernest Rutherford.
  • 1915-17: Pioneer work on acoustic methods of detecting submarines.
  • 1917: Becomes the world's first successful alchemist, changing nitrogen into oxygen (he splits the atom).
  • 1920: Predicts the existence of the neutron.
  • 1925-30: President of the Royal Society of London.
  • 1925: Order of Merit.
  • 1929-37: Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
  • 1931: Raised to the Peerage at New Year, Now Ernest, Lord Rutherford of Nelson.
  • 1931-33: President of the Institute of Physics.
  • 1937: Died 19th Oct 1937. Ashes interred in Westminister Abbey.





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