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Ernest Rutherford - Windows to the Universe

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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.
Picture of Ernest Rutherford
The Bettmann Archive. From painting by James Gunn (1932).

Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford was a New Zealand-born physicist who lived between 1871-1937. He is considered the father of nuclear physics because of his discoveries on atomic structure. Rutherford believed that an atom is like a small planetary system, with the protons and neutrons in the center (like the sun), circled by electrons (like planets).

Rutherford also studied radioactivity. He named and identified alpha and beta particles, and showed how an element changes when it experiences radioactive decay.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF