1971 Lord Rutherford Centenary of Birth
||Alpha Particle Trace / Structure of the Atom
||Nuclear Reaction Equation / Conversion of Nitrogen into Oxygen
||Set of 2
||First Day Cover - 1 December 1971
|... 1c (181a), 7c (181b)|
Two stamps were issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lord
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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
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.
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 protégé Sir Mark Oliphant, was instrumental in the
convening of the Manhattan Project to develop the first nuclear
He is famously quoted as saying: "In science there is
only physics; all the rest is stamp collecting."
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