Göttingen Records 1931
In 1931 Rutherford was invited to Göttingen as part
of the celebrations marking the bi-centennial of the Royal Society of Göttingen, of which
he was a foreign member. The Universitat Göttingen gave him an honorary PhD and he
delivered a lecture on Monday the 14th of December. 700 people arrived but the lecture
room could hold only 400. Professor Pohl recorded this lecture on nine, small, thin,
floppy, celluloid discs. He gave Rutherford one as a souvenir. The meeting was chaired by
Max Born who introduces Rutherford.
Hear Rutherford's Voice (Speaking in
English. 0 min 35 sec, 70KB, MP3)
Hear Rutherford's Voice (A simple man.
1 min 18 sec, 80KB, MP3)
Hear Rutherford's Voice (Question time.
0 min 17 sec, 34KB, MP3)
This lecture was given just a few months before people working under
Rutherford's direction made major announcements. Cockcroft and Walton, after being given a
bit of a rev-up by Rutherford to get on with it, first used their particle accelerator to
split an atom by entirely artificial means, and Chadwick announced the discovery of the
neutron. Just over two years after this talk Rutherford and Oliphant announced the
discovery of tritium (hydrogen-3) and helium-3.
After Ruthereford died in 1937, Lady Rutherford asked Mark Oliphant to
sort out his papers. Mark found the soft disc. He wrote to Professor Pohl and retrieved
all the discs except number 3, which Telefunken had transferred to a large disc and
thereby held the copyright for it. The father of David Schoenberg, a Cavendish student,
was Research Director for EMI so arranged for The Gramophone Company to convert the other
8 discs into 74 rpm 12 inch discs under the His Master's Voice label. These were
held in 9-sleeve albums, for sale by the Cavendish Laboratory for 10 shillings. Disc
number 3 had to be purchased separately from Telefunken. Few buyers seemed to have
Mark Oliphant gifted his collection of records to the Australian National Film and Sound Archives in Canberra.
In 1998 they deaccessioned recordings of non-Australians so offered the set back to the Oliphant family.
They requested it be gifted to me as I would ensure they were placed in a national repository in New Zealand.
There are currently some 30 known sets of the records, only 8 of which contain
the Telefunken record. Let me know of the whereabouts of any other sets.
Record 1 2EA 5746 Introduction of Lord Rutherford - PhD Honoris Causa.
Record 2 2EA 6541 Introductory remarks.
Record 3 T6077 Ansprache des Lord Rutherford
Record 4 2EA 5734 Beta-ray spectra compared with gamma-rays.
Record 5 2EA 5735 Long-range alpha-particles.
Record 6 2EA 5733 Connection of gamma-rays with long range alpha-particles.
Record 7 2EA 5737 Fine structure of alpha-ray groups.
Record 8 2EA 5736 Structure of nucleus, alpha-particles in nucleus.
Record 9 2EA 5732 Discussion.
reported his investigations into these records in ARSC Journal 28 174-187
Location of Full Sets - original recipient
Cambridge University Library - Henry Tizard
University of Canterbury - Clinton Coleridge Farr
University of Nottingham - L F Bates
Australian Academy of Sciences - Fred White
Cockcroft family - John Cockcroft
Private Collection (Australia) - Leslie Martin
Queen's University Belfast - K. G. Emeleus
(One is being processed.)
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Wheelwright Sign c1880
This sign was used by James Rutherford to advertise his wheelwright business at Foxhill 1877-1881.
The large sign, 2.8m wide and 0.45m high, hung at his farmhouse/business opposite the original Foxhill
school (now called the Rutherford Community Hall).
I first saw it in 1981 (17/2/81, NB6/26) where it was used as the lid
to a nail trough in the old Foxhill Store, by then a private house. I mentioned to the owner that should he ever be quitting
the sign to contact the Nelson Museum. He said he wouldn't be parting with it as one day it would be worth something.
As the owner treasured it, and the sign was facing downwards, I had no fears for its immediate safety.
Over the years I visted twice more. On the first occasion the new owner had removed the nail trough lid and
now had it mounted sign uppermost as a shelf/workbench. I immediately reported this in person to the then (new?)
director of the Nelson Museum and asked if the museum would accept the sign if gifted. He stated that the council
had the museum (then out at Isel House) under an embargo from accepting any new donations, due to space considerations.
On my final visit in 1999 the owner was using it to work on dirty engines so it was now badly
stained with oil and grease etc. I again immediately approached the (new?) museum director with the same result. So I offered
the owner $80 to replace the bench provided I could have the old one, which he accepted. It cost $45 to freight to
my home in Christchurch, where it was stored in my garage. When I had finally to clear out the house for minor repairs
following the 2012 earthquake, I again offered it to the Nelson Provincial Museum which finally accepted it on 19/5/16,
(reimbursing the Rutherford Biography Fund $100).
Parchment - Rutherford Coat of Arms
Sir Ernest Rutherford was raised to the peerage (Ernest Lord Rutherford) in the New Year list for 1931.
The Royal College of Arms states:- “a grant of Arms, Crest and Supporters was made to Sir Ernest Rutherford, now Baron
Rutherford of Nelson, of Cambridge, co. Cambridge, by Letters Patent dated 14 October 1931.”
Rutherford was involved with suggestions for the design. No record exists but I assume the quartering of the shield
with the decay and growth curves of radioactivity was his suggestion, as was also the motto “primordia quaerere rerum”
taken from Lucretius' “On the Nature of the Universe” - “ To seek the first principles of things”.
(Together with mathematics, Latin was a compulsory subject for Rutherford’s B.A. from Canterbury College.)
Other elements may just be standard elements chosen by the Herald of Arms: Rutherford elements (the legless martlets
on the shield from the Rutherford family crest, his Order of Merit medal), New Zealand elements (the Kiwi and the Maori
warrior), education elements (the left supporter is Hermes Trismegistus, not only the patron saint of knowledge but
also of alchemy. Rutherford was the world’s first successful alchemist, he changed nitrogen into hydrogen.)
The New Zealand Electricity Department (NZED) built a national headquarters in Wellington in 1973, naming it Rutherford House.
They later commissioned Conrad Swan, the York Herald of Arms, to paint a Rutherford Coat of Arms which he signed off on 5 May 1982.
The painting is on vellum 276mm wide by 378mm high, with gold paint. From my decades of liaison with the Rutherford family and
things Rutherford worldwide this is the only Rutherford Coat of Arms commissioned to date.
(Miniatures exist on the original baronial warrants, one held by the College of Arms and one held by the Rutherford
family, the latter found in a bank vault in 2019 after the death of a granddaughter, much to the surprise of
myself and the whole remaining Rutherford family. Its existence had never been mentioned to me during the four decades
I had been in contact with the family.)
In 1987 the government corporatised NZED into a State Owned Enterprise, the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand
(ECNZ or Electricorp). I first saw the painting when approaching ECNZ to be one of the Principal Patrons of the Rutherford Birthplace
Project. It hung outside the CEO’s office together with an oil painting of Rutherford which had been given to ECNZ by the Rutherford
family in New Zealand. ECNZ didn't end up supporting the project because they were about to be corporatised out of existence.
(Probably not helped by me having to point out that their “oil painting of Rutherford” was from a dodgy branch and was actually
a printed frontispiece painting of the author torn out of a botany book written by the curator of the Otago Museum.)
When ECNZ was broken up and evacuated Rutherford House (the last day if I recall correctly), I visited
them to obtain the “oil painting of Rutherford” but they had disposed of it. (Pity, as it would otherwise have finished
in the Mythology section of my Rutherford website.) However, they gave me the Coat of Arms to support my Rutherford work.
Painting - Pungarehu Flax Mill
Painting - Whanganui River