Ernest, Baron Rutherford of Nelson (1871-1937)

Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1921-1937

  • Ernest, Baron Rutherford of Nelson

    Ernest, Baron Rutherford of Nelson

    Credit: Royal Institution

Biography

Ri positions

  • Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1921-1937

Ernest Rutherford was born in Nelson, New Zealand, and studied mathematics and physics at Canterbury College. In 1895 he moved to England where he began work with JJ Thomson at Trinity College, Cambridge, on radioactivity. In 1898 he became Professor of Physics at McGill University, Montreal, where he worked together on radioactivity with another English physicist, Frederick Soddy.

In 1907 he returned to England as Professor of Physics in Manchester where he showed the alpha particle was helium. In 1908 Rutherford won the Nobel Prize for his work on the chemistry of radioactive substances. During the Great War he was engaged on anti-submarine work and in 1919 was appointed Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge which he held until his death. He was chairman of the Advisory Council of the Department of Industrial and Scientific Research from 1930 to 1937 and President of the British Association in 1923.