Saturday, September 6, 2008
Lord Rutherford and no second Nobel Prize
"I have dealt with many different transformations with various periods of time, but the quickest that I have met was my own transformation in one moment from a physicist to a chemist." Ernest Rutherford (Nobel Banquet, 1908)
This article is about how Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) got the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and why he did not get a second Prize for his subsequent outstanding discoveries in physics, specially the discovery of the atomic nucleus and the proton. Who were those who nominated him and who did he nominate for the Nobel Prizes. In order to put the Prize issue into its proper context, I will briefly describe Rutherford’s whereabouts. Rutherford, an exceptionally gifted scientist who revolutionized chemistry and physics, was moulded in the finest classical tradition. What were his opinions on some scientific issues such as Einstein’s photon, uncertainty relations and the future prospects for atomic energy? What would he have said about the "Theory of Everything"?
Lord Rutherford of Nelson, His 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and Why He Didn’t Get a Second Prize