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The Self-Spilling Atom
The history of the Rutherford-Soddy collaboration

Thaddeus Trenn

Taylor and Francis Ltd 1977
ISBN 0-85066-109-9
175 pages. Hard Cover.
21 black/white photos, 16 figures embedded in the text.

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Out of Print

My Comments on This Book
Norman Feather states in his forword "the collaboration of Rutherford and Soddy will for long remain the most interesting of all collaborations. It has three aspects of uniqueness: the extreme youth of the collaborators, the entire novelty of the field in which they were working and of the concepts which they developed, and the fact that over a period of thirty years or more a fair share of the credit for their joint achievment was not universally accorded to one of them."

I dont fully agree with the latter statement. Soddy outlived Rutherford which is why this view came about. Soddy had gone to Canada hoping to get a position at Toronto. On not doing so he went to a temporary position at McGill, where he worked on the action of light on chlorine gas. The first Rutherford-Soddy interaction was in 1901 when they were on opposite sides of a discussion held by the McGill Physical Society. Rutherford pointed out there were objects smaller than atoms, JJ Thomson's electron. Soddy defended the integrity of the chemical atom. Rutherford was already on the way to transmutation, having reported and studied the radioactive emanation of thorium, and had reported on the different lifetimes of thorium and radium emanations, and also that the radioactivity "induced" by each element were different too. Rutherford had his research students, such as Hannah Brooks, and his friend, the new professor of electrical engineering working on the problem. Following the McGill Physical Society discussion, Rutherford, who had been turned down by his friend the new chemistry professor (an organic chemist) invited Soddy to join him in working out the chemistry of the emanations.

Errors Noted.
None noted

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Contents

Foreword Norman Feather

vii

Preface

ix

Acknowledgements

x1

Chapter

1 The Collaboration Epitomized

1

2 Background to the Collaboration

10

3 Emanation

36

4 An Explanation of Radioactivity

49

5 Further Problems

72

6 Wider Implications

88

7 Theoretical Difficulties

107

8 Confirmation and Reflections

124

9 Significance of the Self-Splitting Atom

142

Appendix 1 Dating the Addendum of Rutherford and Soddy

148

Appendix 2 Thorium and Uranium Decay

152

Appendix 3 Probability and the Disintegration Theory

156

Bibliography Works Cited by Short Title

160

Who's Who for 1903

160

Index of Persons

170

Subject Index

173

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