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Rutherford of Nelson
Ivor Evans

Penguin (Pelican) Books 1943
ISBN  None
232 pages. Paperback - war-time paper.
No illustrations.

Purchasing Details.
Out of Print

My Comments on This Book
This book is a "complete" revision of Ivor Evans' 1939 book Man of Power. However I noted hardly any differences. eg p110 The laboratory at Manchester was "turned upside down" becomes p86 "drastically reorganised." It is printed on wartime quality paper so copies are quite fragile now.

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 surprising thing is 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.
p9 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.
p10 Matucka = Motueka.
p10 James was 3 when he left England and 4 when he arrived in New Zealand.
p11 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

v

Contents

vii

Chapter

Page

1 Pioneer Days in New Zealand

9

2 Student Days at Canterbury

17

3 A Cambridge Interlude

23

4 Canada and the First Great Discovery

32

5 Consolidating his Position

40

6 First Years at Manchester

55

7 The Second Great Discovery

67

8 Rutherford - Moseley and Bohr

72

9 The Third Great Discovery

85

10 The Human Alpha-Particle

95

11 First Years at the Cavendish

102

12 The Life History of the Alpha Particle

110

13 President of the British Association

115

14 Building for the Future

123

15 Exploring the Nucleus

132

16 The Scientist is Human

145

17 The Fulfilment of a Prophecy

153

18 High Voltages and High Speeds

157

19 Modern Alchemy

161

20 The Rutherford Menage

173

21 Influence on Science and Industry

185

22 Wandering Scholars

197

23 Over the Hedge

207

24 The Sudden End

214

Epilogue Indian Science Congress

221

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Reviews

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