19 Feb, 2004 530 Physics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Ernest Rutherford. He was the father of nuclear science, a great charismatic figure who mapped the landscape of the sub-atomic world. He identified the atom’s constituent parts, discovered that elemental decay was the cause of radiation and became the first true alchemist in the history of science when he forced platinum to change into gold. He was born at the edge of the Empire in 1871, the son of Scottish immigrant farmers and was working the fields when a telegram came from the great British physicist J J Thomson asking him to come to Cambridge. Rutherford immediately laid down his spade saying “that’s the last potato I ever dig”. It was. He went on to found a science, win a Nobel Prize and pioneer the ‘big science’ of the twentieth century.

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  • Simon Schaffer 25 episodes
    Professor in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge
  • Jim Al-Khalili 8 episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University of Surrey
  • Patricia Fara 17 episodes
    Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge

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Auto-category: 539.7 (Atomic and nuclear physics)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Ernest Rutherford was the father of nuclear science, the great charismatic figure who mapped the landscape of the subatomic world.