Chemistry History Physical Chemistry

Today in Chemistry History – Ernest Rutherford’s Birthday

Today in Chemistry History: Ernest Rutherford's birthday. Shows a picture of Rutherford with a short bio: he won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work on radioactivity, naming alpha and beta radiation. He also developed the Rutherford model of the atom. A diagram shows his famous gold foil experiment, in which alpha particles were fired at thin metal foils. Most passed through the foil but a small number were deflected back at a large angle. This showed that the positively charged protons are concentrated in the nucleus of the atom.

Today, 30 August, marks the birthday of Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford is primarily considered a physicist, but his contribution to our understanding of the atom is also important to chemistry. He was also a chemistry Nobel Prize winner, for his work on radioactivity. This graphic looks in detail at one of his most famous experiments, the gold foil experiment which is often name-dropped in school science lessons!

If you fancy learning more about Rutherford’s life and work, you could do worse than checking out this epic stream of tweets that Dr Paul Coxon of The University of Cambridge has been running all day. I’ve lost count of how many tweets it’s run to at this point, but anything you’ve ever wanted to know about Rutherford is likely mentioned, including his academic career, a discussion of his coat of arms, stamps on which he has featured (he once famously remarked that “all science is either physics or stamp-collecting”) and more! Click on the tweet below to view the full series of tweets (at the time of writing it’s still going strong!).

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