Atomic Anatomy

A century ago, Ernest Rutherford inaugurated the nuclear age

By Tom Siegfried, 11:36 AM April 21, 2011

Ernest Rutherford grew up in the 19th century. He created the 20th.

No discovery struck deeper into the scientific understanding of reality, with more profound implications for civilization, than Rutherford’s revelation of the architecture of the atom.

A century ago in May, Rutherford published a paper in the Philosophical Magazine interpreting experiments completed two years earlier by his assistants Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden. They had witnessed the atomic equivalent, as Rutherford l...

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