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 radiation.
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 â€” 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
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.
along with that of his protege 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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