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Purchasing Details
Errors Noted

Rutherford Scientist Supreme
John Campbell

AAS Publications, 1999
515 pages.
16 colour plates, 32 B/W plates,
96 illustrations imbedded within the text.
First published Nov 1999 in New Zealand.
Reprinted March 2000 for release overseas.

Purchasing Details.
Purchase directly from the publisher AAS Publications, PO Box 31-035, Christchurch, New Zealand. For other countries email books [at) .

Book, shipped to:

My Comments on This Book
This is the only large biography of Rutherford currently in print and is the result of 20 years of archival research and interviews covering 14 countries. It is the first book to draw on original archives in New Zealand and, surprisingly, on many archives in Canada and the UK. The work had the blessing of the Rutherford family in England and New Zealand. The emphasis is from the New Zealand point of view. When I commenced this work there were 26 nephews and nieces of Rutherford still alive. All are now dead. I attempted to track down the descendents of every student close to Rutherford at Canterbury College and had a policy of working only from original sources, not second hand sources as these are notorious for errors.

Ernest Rutherford is New Zealand's most famous son. It is amazing that no New Zealander had previously studied Rutherford and that a country could give out such a flawed image of its most famous son. Prior to this reseach and book we used to have the Rutherfords arrive in New Zealand 9 years prior to the year the ship they were said to arrive in was built; we married him off to his mother-in-law; we projected his later fame back to make a genius of a normal Kiwi kid; we had him start at university a year later than reality; and we couldn't give a correct account of the research he did in New Zealand. One large corporation, which had named its high profile building in honour of Ern, for decades worshipped a "painting" of Lord Rutherford, not knowing that the portrait, which had been given to them by a branch of the Rutherford family, was actually that of the curator of the Otago Museum.

Not surprisingly, the book is New Zealand centered.  206 of its 515 pages covering his life and times before leaving New Zealand. These were his formative years and it should not be forgotten that he left New Zealand in 1895 at age 23, with three degrees from the University of New Zealand and two years research at the forefront of the electrical technology of the day. His brilliance at experimental research was already obvious. Several later events are told from the New Zealand perspective, often through letters written home to his parents and mother-in-law. This book gives the first full account of the circumstances of Rutherford's  Nobel Prize and consideration as to why he received only the one Nobel Prize.

The Stout Trust donated a copy of this book to the library of every intermediate and secondary school in New Zealand. The Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind have read the book into their Talking Books series for members. (20.5 hours, the reader is Paul Barrett.)

Errors Noted.
1st and 2nd Print. p 310 and p 316 Dec 10th is Nobel's death day, not birth day.
p 368 (facing) B25a photo caption. Thompson should be Thomson.
p 449 31 signatories to the letter to the editor (not 29).
p 336 the statement re the unit the Curie should read "With the unit named in her late husband's honour".
p346 Wilmslow Road not Street. (line 20). Thanks to Gordon Whitham.
p385 Frederick Aston should be Francis William Aston (also in index). Thanks to Kevin Downard.

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Patrons of the Research


Author's Notes


Foreword Professor Sir Mark Oliphant




Chapter 1

1 Lucky Infant - Carefree Child Nelson to 1883


2 Tragedies and Triumphs Havelock 1881-1889


3 Earnest Schoolboy Nelson College 1887-1889


4 Academia Canterbury College 1890


5 Senior Undergraduate Canterbury College 1891-1892


6 Apprenticeship in Research Canterbury College 1893


7 Planning for the Future Canterbury College 1894-1895




8 Wireless Signalling Cambridge University 1895-1896


9 The New Physics Cambridge University 1896-1898


10 Natural Alchemy McGill University 1898-1903


11 Consolidating a Nobel Prize McGill University 1903-1907


12 The Nobel Prize Stockholm and Manchester 1907-1908


13 Counting Atoms Manchester University 1907-1908


14 The Atom Unveiled Manchester University 1909-1914


15 TheWorld at War Manchester and New Zealand 1914-1919


16 Broadening Research Cambridge University 1919-1929


17 Triumphal Tour of Home New Zealand 1925


18 Death and Glory Cambridge University 1930-1931


19 Birth of the Atom Smashers Cambridge University 1932


20 Elder Statesman of Science Cambridge University 1930-1937


21 Sundown 1937




List ofIllustrations Colour Photographs


Black/White Photographs


Sources of Information Including illustrations within the text




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To date there have been 18 reviews in New Zealand and 14 overseas.

New Zealand

Northern Advocate 3/11/99 Des Bell
Hawkes Bay Today 20/11/99 Jim Eagles
Chem NZ p44-5 Nov 1999 Arthur Williamson
Waikato Times 27/11/99 Dale Carnegie
Listener 27/11/99 Geoff Austin
North and South p128-9 Dec 1999 Michael King
NZ Herald 13/11/99 Lydia Austin
The Press 4/12/99 Arthur Williamson
Otago Daily Times 15/12/99 Ron Tyrrell
Nelson Mail 8/1/00 Graham Spencer
Breakin Jan/Feb 2000 John Walker
University of Canterbury Chronicle 24/2/00 Arthur Williamson
Evening Post 4/8/00 Ray Henwood
Marlborough Express ?/00 Ralph Ballinger
Dominion 19/8/00 Alan Samson
Evening Standard 28/8/00 Denis Dwyer
Archifacts p66-69 Oct 2000 Garry Tee
Canterbury Science Nov 2000 John Walker
The Daily News (New Plymouth) 8/12/01 David Bruce
Opunake and Coastal News News 27/7/06 Rolland McKellar

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The Australian Physicist (Jan/Feb) 37 36 2000 Colin Keay
New Zealand News 26/8/00 Louise Cunningham
Cern Courier (Sept) 40/7 48-9 2000 Gordon Fraser
American Journal of Physics (Sept) 68 873 2000 Jim Cederberg
Cambridge Evening News 16/9/00 Chris Elliott
Chemistry in Britain p56 Sept 2000 Michael Sutton
Physics World p50 Oct 2000 Jeff Hughes
Physics in Canada (Nov-Dec) 56 338-9 2000 David Lockwood
Endeavour 24 178 2000 Lawrence Badash
Int J of the Spec Soc of Canada 45 115 2000 Don Ramsay
Canadian Chemical News 54/212 2000 Don Ramsay
J Chem Ed 78 313 2001 John Turner
Chem 13 News (Univ of Waterloo) No 291 (Feb) 1 2001 Don Ramsay
Physics Today p61-2 Feb 2001 Sam Devons
Structural Chemistry 12/3-4 343-4 2001 Don Ramsay
The Physics Teacher Mar 2001 John Hubisz
European J Physics 22 191 2001 H Rechenberg
Historical Records of Australian Science 13 364-5 2001 John Jenkin
Short Book Reviews of the International Statistical Institute 21 21 2001 Don Ramsay
Angewandte Chemistry (in German) 113 3589 2001 Gunter Herrmann
Angewandte Chemistry (Int Ed ie in English) 40 3479 2001 Gunter Herrmann
Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 55 494-5 2001 Sir Brian Pippard
Annals of Science 59 99-101 2002 Arne Hessenbruch
Contemporary Physics 59 211-213 2002 R Gilmore
Canadian Nuclear Society Bulletin 28 57 2007 Jim Arsenault

Reviews available to all via the web

Archifacts Oct 2000
American Journal of Physics Sept 2000
Cern Courier Sept 2000
Physics in Canada click on PIC online
Physics Today Feb 2001

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