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Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy: 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Born in Nelson, New Zealand in 1871, Ernest Rutherford––now considered to be the “father of nuclear physics”–was one of the most accomplished physicists of his time. Among some of Rutherford’s most significant achievements include the discovery of the atomic nucleus and the concept of radioactive half-life. At the age of 26, Rutherford moved to Montreal where was appointed as a physics professor at McGill University. Three years into working at McGill, Rutherford began collaborating with chemist Frederick Soddy on experiments which explored the conversion of one chemical element into another through radioactive decay – an idea that previously belonged to the realm of alchemy. In the span of two years, Rutherford and Soddy co-published 9 papers together, including the revolutionary two-part paper titled “The cause and nature of radioactivity”.

Explore this Esri ArcGIS intertwining timeline to discover Rutherford and Soddy’s story.

Written and researched by Joshua Mogyoros

Josh Mogyoros

Education Collaborator

I am a deeply curious human being. Although I do not think it is necessarily a healthy practice to see one’s job as a defining component of their identity, I identify as both a teacher and a student outside of the context of academia (and I am slowly beginning to identify as a writer). I have completed a Bachelor’s and Master of Science in physics at the University of Guelph; however, it was through completing the Master of Teaching program at OISE that I have come to appreciate the skills developed through my science education while simultaneously identifying the cognitive gaps that have formed by focusing my academic career on a singular way of knowing.

Storymap by Brent Crane

Brent Crane

StoryMaps Coordinator and Education Consultant

Brent Crane graduated from Nipissing University’s Concurrent Education Program with a BA Honours Specialization in Mathematics and a Minor in History in 2021. Brent’s passion for interdisciplinary education, particularly within his teachable subjects led him to work on educational resources for the Defining Moments Team. He hopes to create enthusiasm for Canadian history in learners across the nation.