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Ernest Rutherford

Ernest RutherfordNew Zealander Ernest Rutherford was one of the greatest and most important scientists of the 20th century.

For his experiments in radioactivity, Rutherford was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize in chemistry. But it is for his achievements in nuclear physics that he is best remembered. Ernest Rutherford made three major discoveries that have shaped modern science. First he proved that elements can change their structure. Second he created the nuclear model of the atom, with a tiny nucleus orbited by electrons. Third he succeeded in splitting the atom, becoming the first to create a nuclear reaction – and securing his legacy as the 'Father of the Atomic Age.'

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what others have said about Ernest Rutherford:


“In a generation that witnessed one of the greatest revolutions in the entire history of science he was universally acknowledged as the leading explorer of the vast infinitely complex universe within the atom, a universe that he was first to penetrate.” 

–The New York Times


“He is to the atom what Darwin is to evolution, Newton to mechanics, Faraday to electricity and Einstein to relativity.” 

–Biographer John Campbell


“The creator of modern atomic physics and forerunner of the nuclear age … Rutherford’s three major discoveries shaped modern science, created nuclear physics and changed the way that we envisage the structure of the atom.” 



“A second Newton…”
The man who “tunneled into the very material of God” 

–Albert Einstein


Not bad for a farm boy from Nelson.

Ernest RutherfordMore on Ernest Rutherford:

Biography of Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford, Atom Man

Ernest Rutherford, Scientist Supreme

Nobel Prize winner Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford, A Nucleated Century




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