Ernest Rutherford and Hans Geiger, nuclear physicists, 1912.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph of Rutherford and Geiger with their apparatus for counting alpha particles. Born in New Zealand, Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) was a pioneering nuclear physicist who discovered the alpha, beta and gamma rays of radiation. In 1907, he began working with the German physicist Hans Wilhelm Geiger (1882-1945), extending his study of alpha particles. Together they worked on a radiation detector invented by and named after Geiger, and developed the scintillation screen for observing alpha particles. In 1908 Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.