A textbook belonging to Sir Ernest Rutherford, 1885.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Title page of 'An Elementary Treatise on Dynamics' by Benjamin Williamson and Francis A Tarleton, belonging to the physicist Sir Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937). Rutherford was born in New Zealand and came to the UK in 1895 to study physics at Cambridge. He worked on radiation, discovered in 1896 by Antoine Becquerel (1852-1902) whose work was continued by Pierre and Marie Curie. Rutherford's work revealed the existence of three types of radiation, which he named alpha, beta and gamma rays. Rutherford later worked with Hans Geiger (1882-1945) on a radiation detector. He continued to work at the cutting edge of nuclear physics and was involved in the first nuclear fusion reaction in 1934. Rutherford has been rightly described as the father of nuclear physics.