Ernest Rutherford

The coolest chemist ever


Originally from New Zealand, he was born August 31,1971 and was the fourth of 12 children.

1887 Won a Marlborough Scholarship to Nelson College.

1889 Won a University of New Zealand Junior Scholarship.

1890-4 Attended Canterbury College, University of New Zealand, in Christchurch


By allowing radiation from uranium to pass through an increasing number of layers of metal foil, he discovered that:

beta particles have greater penetrating power than alpha rays

By the direction of their movement in a magnetic field, he deduced that:

Alpha particles are positively charged

By measuring the ratio of mass to charge, he formed the hypothesis that:

alpha particles are helium ions carrying a 2+ charge

Rutherford came to the conclusion that:

alpha particles are atomic in nature

alpha particles are produced by the disintegration of larger atoms – and so atoms are not, as everyone had believed, indestructible

when large atoms emit alpha particles they become slightly smaller atoms, which means radioactive elements must change into other elements when they decay