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Man of Power
Ivor Evans

Scientific Book Club 1939
ISBN None
288 pages. Hardback - war-time paper.
9 B/W plates.

Purchasing Details.
Out of Print

My Comments on This Book

Ivor Evans' was a journalist who specialised in scientific feature articles. His background was in economics, languages and managing drama groups, although he had helped organise scientific societies at school. At the outbreak of the Second World War he entered industry on the technical side of munitions manufacturing. He later wrote various reports for the National Coal Board on the extraction of coal.

Lady Rutherford was cross that Evans' original book came out before the official biography by Arthur Eve. One strength Evans had as a journalist was access to newspapers. Also he was one of the first, if not the first, to think of writing a quick biography after Rutherford's death, and he had access to journalists who had interviewed Rutherford at different times. What a gem is the prophetic story Tom Clarke told Evans of Rutherford's refusal to couch his newsworthy stories in simple words for the unscientific reporter and for the general public. "I think he was wrong, as I think many leaders of science are still wrong in holding aloof from the man in the street and not giving simple understanding explanations of what they are doing. After all, it is on the interest of the lay public that the finance of the research depends."

The nine plates of illustrations are a curious choice. One is a frontisepiece portrait of Ern and one shows Ern with Cockcroft and Walton but the others show other people's apparatus, (eg Cloud Chamber, mass spectrometer). The photo of Canterbury College is of buildings that mostly didn't exist when Ern arrived at Canterbury College. Another surprising thing is that Evans didn't appear to interview some of the people who knew Rutherford best, for example JJ Thomson. The New Zealand side is entirely unreliable. (eg p21 when describing where Rutherford carried out his research at Canterbury College. "This den was an underground room beneath the physics laboratory" No, it was under the mathematics lecture room. "It still exists, though the building which formerly stood above it has passed away," No, the main Canterbury College buildings still stand above it. "Hertz's experiments aroused the enthusiasm of Rutherford" No, it was Tesla's experiments.)

So when reading this book enjoy the first hand reminiscences of Rutherford passed on to Evans but otherwise it has been superceeded in accuracy by subsequent biographies.

Errors Noted.
p13 The Phoebe Dunbar was built some 9 years after the Rutherford's arrived in New Zealand. They arrived on the new ship the Phoebe, which later sunk in India and the Phoebe Dunbar was built as a replacement.
p14 Matucka = Motueka.
p14 James was 3 when he left England and 4 when he arrived in New Zealand.
p14 Martha wasn't the first woman schoolteacher in New Zealand. For example, she had taken over from her mother. p11 Brightwater wasn't in the depths of the New Zealand forests. It was on a plain.
These comments, with those above, show that early detail is often flawed. However the later chapters on Rutherford's research and influence are good.

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Contents

Preface

7

Contents

9

Chapter

Page

1 Pioneer Days in New Zealand

13

2 Student Days at Canterbury

23

3 A Cambridge Interlude

30

4 Canada and the First Great Discovery

41

5 Consolidating his Position

51

6 First Years at Manchester

71

7 The Second Great Discovery

86

8 Rutherford - Moseley and Bohr

93

9 The Third Great Discovery

109

10 The Human Alpha-Particle

121

11 First Years at the Cavendish

130

12 The Life History of the Alpha Particle

140

13 President of the British Association

146

14 Building for the Future

156

15 Exploring the Nucleus

168

16 The Scientist is Human

184

17 The Fulfilment of a Prophecy

194

18 High Voltages and High Speeds

199

19 Modern Alchemy

204

20 The Rutherford Menage

220

21 Influence on Science and Industry

235

22 Wandering Scholars

250

23 Over the Hedge

262

24 The Sudden End

272

25 Epilogue: Indian Science Congress

280

Index

285

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Reviews

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