Picture of Ernest Rutherford
The Bettmann Archive. From painting by James Gunn (1932).
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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