AUTHORWilson, David
TITLERutherford: Simple Genius
CITYCambridge, MA

This definitive biography of Nobel Prize winner Ernest Rutherford provides an extensive view of the physicist's life. Wilson starts with Rutherford’s early life in New Zealand, then moves to his student years at Cambridge, where Rutherford studied with J.J. Thompson on the emerging science of X-rays. Wilson documents Rutherford's work with Fredrick Soddy at McGill University, where he established the laws of radioactive decay and showed that elements can transmutate, for which he won a Nobel Prize. The story then turns to Rutherford’s time at Manchester, where he discovered the atomic nucleus and, in collaboration with Niels Bohr, established basic atomic structure. The author includes new research on Rutherford’s activities during World War I, which were kept secret long after his death. One example is Rutherford's work on anti-submarine devices to combat the German fleet. To convey a sense of Rutherford's intuitive genius, Wilson describes Rutherford’s lesser-known experiments, many of which were dead-ends.

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