Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson (1871-1937)

Ernest Rutherford was born in Spring Grove New Zealand in 1871. Although he is mostly remembered for his pioneering work in subatomic physics, he made valuable contributions to radio science. In 1895 he was admitted to Cavendish College where he made the first successful wireless transmissions over two miles.

Subsequent research under J.J.Thomson yielded the discovery of alpha beta and gamma radiation. In 1898 he became Professor of Physics at McGill University, Montreal. In 1907 he became a professor at Manchester, where his students Geiger and Marsden carried out their famous experiment where alpha particles were deflected by atoms in a sheet of gold foil. From this, Rutherford formed a model of the atom where electrons orbited a compact nucleus.

During World War I, Rutherford researched submarine detection for the Admiralty. In 1919, he showed that by bombarding nitrogen with alpha rays, he could cause atomic transformation that liberated hydrogen nuclei. In 1920 he predicted the existence of the neutron.

He was made Cavendish Professor at Cambridge in 1920 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1908.