about ernest rutherford

Chemistry and physics are two of the most fascinating sciences because they are based on experiments and proving reality. They are both the foundation of life and how everything in the world works. Several physicists, including Ernest Rutherford, also made significant contributions to these two fields. Rutherford was born in Scotland and raised in New Zealand as the youngest of twelve brothers. As a boy, he became interested in a variety of scientific fields. Rutherford attended the Free States Academy, where he earned a scholarship to study, where he pursued his interest in scientific fields. Then, he was awarded another scholarship to Canterbury College. Here, the professors noted his superb knowledge in and assisted him to develop his dreams. On completion of the three-year course, he was awarded bachelors’ degree (Chariker, Zhang, Pani, & Rouchka, 2016, p 89). Later on, he pursued his master’s education, in the same college and was awarded first class honors in Physical Science, Mathematics and Mathematica Physics. It is during this time that he ventured into his works that led him to create high-frequency electrical discharge sources like the capacitor.

Ernest Rutherford is one of the scientists who made a significant change in the field of Chemistry and Physics (Wynchank, 2016, p.41). His inventions led to the development of a new field of study known as nuclear chemistry. His efforts were appreciated tremendously with a Nobel peace prize. In this paper, we will discuss his works that led to him getting an award in the field. Rutherford was a great student who took his studies seriously, as stated earlier, he won himself several scholarships which propelled him to further his studies. He took advantage of this slight chances and maximized them to his possible best (Eve, 2013, p 130). During his time in college, Rutherford came up with several inventions which developed the fields of chemistry and physics further. He was the first person to discover a magnetic field. Also, he discovered oscillatory charge and the electromagnetic waves. The climax of his works was the discovery of the contents of an atom. By studying the atom, he came up with two different rays, the alpha and beta rays. Also, he came up with the radioactivity decay theory (Nunes, 2013, p.142). These two sections earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in Chemistry as these were new inventions that would shape the world in a different way.

Rutherford studied the atom and was able to derive its contents based its behavior. Also, he managed to characterize each of these contents depending on their interactions with one another. He weighed the contents and measured their charge. By studying the atom, he was able to derive three types of rays; alpha rays, gamma rays and beta rays. Alpha rays have a positive charge while beta have negative. Also, he discovered that beta rays had no energy. Gamma rays have no charge but a lot of energy.

Figure 1: Rutherford’s Model of an Atom

Applications of Rutherford’s Work in Modern Day

Ernest Rutherford made a great significance in the Chemistry. it is appropriate to say that he came up with a new approach for understanding Chemistry better by enabling one to visualize what happens when matter interact with one another (MicroReviews, 2013, p.319). With this invention, learning of Chemistry become more interesting and more vivid to its learners. He made promoted Chemistry from an imaginary subject to a more practical and visual discipline. His inventions also had a great significance in Physics. Through his studies, he was able to come up with a new branch in physics known as electricity and magnetism. He discovered the existence of a magnetic field from a magnetic material. He was able to show the relationship between an electric field and magnetic field. He showed how these two fields can interact to produce high voltage of electricity. He used the foundation laid by previous scientists such as J.J. Thompson as a basis for his studies. He studied this works in depth and was able to eradicate errors and assumptions made by these scientists. Also, the discovery of radioactive decay gave rise to the nuclear chemistry and energy. Using this knowledge, people were able to derive high amounts of energy from the small particles known as atoms. However, not all atoms are radioactive. However, the invention of nuclear energy came along with great danger. When not handled properly, nuclear energy can be very destructive.

Ernest Rutherford is truly one remarkable scientist who made a great impact in the field of sciences. He developed the works of other scientists further and eliminated any assumptions by providing proves alongside his works. His inventions were not only useful during his time, but also in the present world. They have played a great role in shaping the world today. Although the atom is minute substance, the facts about it, as laid down by Rutherford, seem to hold due to the chemical reactions and interactions that take place in our day to day lives.


Badash, L. (2016, March 9). Ernest Rutherford. Retrieved March 26, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ernest-Rutherford; figure one

Chariker, J. H., Zhang, Y., Pani, J. R., & Rouchka, E. C. (2016). Identification of Successful Mentoring Communities using Network-based Analysis of Mentor-Mentee Relationships across Nobel Laureates. http://doi.org/10.1101/075432

Eve, A. S. (2013). Rutherford: being the life and letters of the Rt. Hon. Lord Rutherford, O.M. (Reprint). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

MicroReviews by the Book Review Editor: Radioactive Transformations: Ernest Rutherford. (2013). The Physics Teacher, 51(5), 319–319. http://doi.org/10.1119/1.4801386

Nunes, M. D. E. C. (2013). Introduction. SpringerBriefs in Physics Hadron Therapy Physics and Simulations, 1–14. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-8899-6_1

Wynchank, S. (2016). Nuclear Physics and Professor Ernest Rutherford. Louis Harold Gray, 41–44. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-43397-4_6

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