-Rutherford was born in rural Spring Grove, on the South Island of New Zealand on August 30, 1871
-He was the fourth of 12 children. His father, James, had little education and struggled to support the large family. Rutherford’s mother, Martha, worked as a schoolteacher. She believed that knowledge was power, and placed a strong emphasis on her children’s education. Because his parents appreciated education so much, Ernest and his siblings were able to have a good education.
-At the age of 10, Rutherford was handed his first science book, at Foxhill School, which inspired him to do his first scientific experiment.
-In 1887 he was awarded a scholarship to attend Nelson Collegiate School, a private secondary school
-In 1890 Rutherford landed another scholarship—this time to Canterbury College in Christchurch, New Zealand. Rutherford received both his Bachelor of Arts and his Master of Arts degrees here, and managed to achieve first-class honors in math and science. In 1894, still at Canterbury, Rutherford earned a Bachelor of Science degree in just one year through his independent study. During that same year, Rutherford met and fell in love with his landlady’s daughter, Mary Newton. The couple married in 1900 and later had a daughter named Eileen.
- Rutherford discovered and named alpha and beta decay and created the terms alpha, beta, and gamma rays
-In 1917, Ernest Rutherford "split the atom," discovering that atoms are made of more than one part by converting nitrogen into oxygen
-Rutherford overturned Thomson's model in 1911 with his well-known gold foil experiment, where he demonstrated that the atom has a small, dense nucleus that contains the positively charged particle
-In 1920, Rutherford proposed the name proton for the positively charged particle in the nucleus of an atom, which is also when he proposed that the nucleus also contained a neutral particle, eventually named the neutron
Gold Foil Experiment
-While at Cavendish Laboratory, Rutherford was invited by Professor J.J. Thomson to collaborate on a study of X-rays. This inspired him to do some further research: the Gold Foil Experiment
- Rutherford shot alpha particles at a piece of gold foil to see what would happen. The current hypothesis was that J.J. Thomson's Plum Pudding Model. He also placed a zinc sulfide screen behind the foil to catch the alpha particles the foil did not deflect
-He inspected that while most alpha particles passed through the gold foil, some were actually deflected back and in other directions at greater angles.
He concluded that:
1) J.J Thomson's Plum Pudding Model was wrong, for if the atom was completely made up of electrons surrounded by a positive charge, all of the alpha particles would have bounced back at a greater angle
2) Since most of the alpha particles were not deflected, most the space within the atom was empty
3) As some of the particles were deflected, there must be some small positively…