Ernest Rutherford

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Inventors and Inventions

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Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford

Born on August 31st, 1871 in Nelson, New Zealand

As a child, Ernest Rutherford grew up on a farm with his 12 siblings. Money was always tight for the Rutherford family so Ernest found inventive was to overcome financial troubles. When Ernest turned 10 years old he was given his first science book. This book inspired Ernest to do his first science experiment. He built a cannon that exploded. In 1887 Ernest was awarded a scholarship to attend Nelson Collegiate School, a private secondary school. In 1890 he received a second scholarship to Canterbury College in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ernest earned both his Bachelor of Arts and his Master of Arts degrees. In 1884 Ernest conducted research on the ability of high-frequency electrical discharge to magnetize iron. His research earned him a Bachelor of Science degree in just one year’s time.

In 1895 Ernest was the first research student at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory in London. He was invited by Professor J.J. Thomson to work together on the study of the effects of X-rays on the conductivity of gases. This made Ernest begin to think more about dividing atoms and molecules into ions.

Ernest began to study and focus on Uranium. He discovered that by placing the uranium near foil resulting in one type of radiation being soaked up, while a different type of radiation had no trouble go through the same foil. He then labeled the two radiation types alpha and beta.

The alpha particle was the same as the nucleus of a helium atom. The beta particle was the same as an electron particle. Ernest came to the conclusion that radioactive material took the same amount of time for half of the material to decay. This was called half life.

In 1903, Ernest conducted an experiment with alpha particles aimed at a peice of gold. Almost all the aplpha particles had no deflection.Ernest proved that radioactivity involved the transmutation of one chemical element to another.

In 1907 Ernest made a fantastic discovery. He discovered that the total mass of an atom is in the nucleus of the atom. This created the Nuclear Model. In 1908 Ernest Rutherford won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1908


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