1871 – Rutherford – bio

Ernest Rutherford was born in New Zealand in 1871. He was a physicist and chemist who is known for advancing knowledge of atomic structure. A famous experiment in 1909 that used gold foil to scatter alpha particles (a helium nucleus) and detect the angle of deflection showed that some alpha particles hit the target gold atoms directly and bounce back toward the source they originated from. This allowed Rutherford to calculate that most of the mass of an atom is concentrated in the center, which is now known as the nucleus. In 1917 Rutherford split the atom by bombarding nitrogen with alpha particles which caused a proton to be emitted. In doing this, he also became the first to convert one element into another, producing oxygen from the nitrogen. In 1920, he predicted the existence of the neutron, which was confirmed in 1932 by Chadwick. Also in 1932, another team working under Rutherford performed the first experiment that split a nucleus using protons to bombard lithium and produce two alpha particles by splitting the lithium nucleus. Ernest Rutherford is considered to be the father of nuclear physics.

PRECURSOR:
Curie
Becquerel
Roentgen
1856 – Thomson

CONCURRENT:
Geiger
Soddy
1885 – Bohr
Chadwick
Oppenheimer

SUBSEQUENT:
Oliphant
Fermi

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