Rutherford Correspondences

A place to keep track of reference material - any particularly useful books, articles, etc. should be listed here.
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Richard Hull
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Rutherford Correspondences

Post by Richard Hull » Thu May 16, 2002 4:21 am

"Rutherford" by A.S. Eve, 1939, Cambridge, at the university press.

A fantastic and thorough work on the man. It is not a stock biography, per se, but instead presents a vast range of his personal correspondence in chronological order with a bit of commentary in between from folks who knew him.

This work is slightly rare, fairly expense, ($40.00+), but worth the effort in securing. It was compiled shortly after Rutherford's death and puts him on a typically, heroic British pedestal. This is common for the period.

You'll find little negative commentary in the correspondence, unlike the book assembled around the Rutherford-Boltwood correspondences.

Still, it is a great work and gives the man a bit more depth than just a droning biography.

As you might guess, I like Rutherford. He was an experimental genius who, like Oppenheimer, surronded himself with a galaxy of star pupils who would make their own mark in nuclear science. He was a very practical man who was cautious and meticulous in his work.

He was also short sighted and would not live the extra 8 years needed to have to eat his own words from his now famous statement......

"Anyone who thinks that real, useful energy can be extracted from the atom is talking Moonshine".

His charm came in his insistence on absolute empiricism in uncovering new material. He once said of theoretical physicists droning on about mathematical concepts of unseen particles...."they have there tails up awfully high in the air and we empiricists must knock them back down."

Richard Hull

P.S. Trivia....... A unit of activity was assigned the name - Rutherford. Sparingly used in some texts from the 40's-60's it is, now, no longer used.

1 rutherford = one million disentigrations/second or about 27 microcuries
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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