1971 Lord Rutherford Centenary of Birth

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1971 Lord Rutherford Centenary of Birth
Cat. Mint Unhinged Fine Used
1c Alpha Particle Trace / Structure of the Atom 181a $0.45
7c Nuclear Reaction Equation / Conversion of Nitrogen into Oxygen 181b $0.90
Set of 2 181c $1.30
First Day Cover - 1 December 1971 181d $4.50
… Two Stamps : 1c (181a), 7c (181b)
Two stamps were issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lord Rutherford's birth.

Lord Ernest Rutherford (30 August 1871 - 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand born scientist who graduated with a B.Sc. in chemistry and geology from Canterbury College (now the University of Canterbury). After also gaining a BA and MA, and doing two years research into electrical technology, he travelled to England for postgraduate study at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. During the investigation of radioactivity he coined the terms alpha and beta to describe the two distinct types of emitted radiation.

In 1898 Rutherford was appointed to the chair of physics at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His work there earned him the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. From 1900 to 1903, Frederick Soddy and Rutherford collaborated on research into the transmutation of elements. Ernest Rutherford had demonstrated that radioactivity was the spontaneous disintegration of atoms. He noticed that a radioactive sample invariably took the same time for half the sample to decay — its "half-life". He created a practical application for this phenomenon, using this constant rate of decay as a clock to help determine the actual age of the Earth. His estimates showed that the Earth was much older than most scientists at that time believed.

In 1907 Rutherford worked with Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden. It was his interpretation of these experiments that led him to the Rutherford model of the atom having a very small positively charged nucleus orbited by electrons. He became the first person to transmute one element into another when he converted nitrogen into oxygen.

His research, along with that of his protege Sir Mark Oliphant, was instrumental in the convening of the Manhattan Project to develop the first nuclear weapons.

He is famously quoted as saying: "In science there is only physics; all the rest is stamp collecting."

The Postage Stamps of New Zealand Volume VI
Edited by D. E. G. Naish FRPSNZ and K. J. McNaught FRPSNZ FRPSL
Publsihed 1975 by The Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand Incorporated
Pages 180 - 181
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