The physicist is considered one of the most successful experimenters in history. The discovery of radioactivity by Antoine Henri Becquerel became decisive for Rutherford’s research. He investigated the ionizing effect of radioactive radiation on gases and discovered two components with different degrees of absorption, which he called alpha rays and beta rays. He concentrated on the study of alpha particles and in 1903 succeeded in deflecting them in a strong magnetic field and proving that they are positively charged.
He found the law of radioactive decay in 1902 together with Frederick Soddy.
Rutherford received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 for “Investigations on the Decay of the Elements and the Chemistry of Radioactive Matter.”
His best-known contribution to atomic physics is the “Rutherford Model of the Atom,” which he derived in 1911 from his scattering experiments of alpha particles on gold foil. Today, Rutherford is considered one of the pioneers of research into radioactivity and atomic power.