Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Lord Rutherford

I have been working on buiding an apparatus to study Rutherford's alpha scattering. I had to read his original papers. I also read Biographies on him. I came to know certain interesting stuff from these.

First of all, he did not get a Nobel prize for Physics for his alpha scattering experiment or the Nucleus concept. He had got the Nobel(1905) even before he did the alpha scattering expt(1909), and that too in Chemistry (a subject he didnt like very much!) . He got it for finding Radioactivity laws.

When Geiger and Marsden (his students) reported alpha particle reflection he said "It were as if you fired a 15" shell at a tissue paper and it bounces back and hits you". This statement is not very rare, but considered it worth putting here.

He did more than guesswork to prove that there is a nucleus.

He later proved that the alpha particle is nothing but a Helium nucleus, along with co-workers

He was very humble. He did not even put his name on the alpha scattering papers of Geiger and Marsden, as he only supervised the expt. He played an important role in Chadwick's discovery of the neutron. Even then he did not put his name on the paper.