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A Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford
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A Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford (Great Discoveries)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  83 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Born in colonial New Zealand, Ernest Rutherford grew up on the frontier—a different world from Cambridge, to which he won a scholarship at the age of twenty-four. His work revolutionized modern physics. Among his discoveries were the orbital structure of the atom and the concept of the "half-life" of radioactive materials. Rutherford and the young men working under him wer ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published December 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton Company (first published November 1st 2007)
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Nov 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Einstein gets a lot of press, and for good reason. But it's astonishing that Rutherford isn't also a household name. Maybe it's just me. We tend to honor the theoretical physicists (Bohr, Planck, Heisenberg). Those guys all had their contributions, but Rutherford spent decades at the forefront of experimental physics. Not to mention he got some of those guys started. He was that rare genius whose intuition about the answers to his questions led him to devise ingenious apparatuses that would prod ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book sheds light on a forgotten hero of our society. A Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford explains Rutherford's life and what he did to help civilization advance. Richard Reeves did a great job writing his experiments.
William French
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many physicists, Einstein among them, believed the atom contained tremendous energy. Rutherford, a Kiwi potato farmer, proved it.
Mar 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Reeves, Richard. A FORCE OF NATURE: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford. (2008). *****. Here’s an impressive review of the life and achievements of one of our preeminent physicists as told by an author who is obviously enthusiastic about his subject. The book is the latest issue in the “Great Discoveries” series from Norton. Rutherford grew up in New Zealand in the South Island, about twenty miles away from the nearest town. His father was a farmer, but Ernest had no taste for it. At age 24 ...more
Matt Jarvis
A brief but fascinating biography of the man who more than any other, opened up the world of the sub-atomic and revealed the inner workings of what was previously considered an irreducible, billiard-like ball. The dawn of nuclear physics starts with men, in the dark, peering through microscopes and watching for flashes of light, the tell-tale sign of a particle deflection. This is so very far from the kind of big science that was spawned to dig even further into the atom and to study it's consti ...more
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group, non-fiction, review
Ernest Rutherford won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1908 for his work on the chemistry of radioactive substances. He showed that one element changes into another, identified alpha and beta radiation and introduced the concept of half-life for radioactive decay. He became Director of the prestigious Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University where his team first split the atom. Although his later work followed on from his earlier, it is considered part of physics instead of chemistry. He cou ...more
Octavia Cade
This short biography of Ernest Rutherford is extremely readable, albeit somewhat superficial in its treatment compared to the giant biographical brick produced by Wilson.

This isn't a terrible thing: both books are directed, I think, at different audiences, and both fulfil their brief. Reeves' approach is more an introductory overview of Rutherford's life and physics. It's certainly far more accessible to the general public, being liberally sprinkled with anecdotes to humanise his subject and gi
William Bare
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really nice shortish biography of the life and work of Ernest Rutherford. Although I was somewhat familiar with some of his more famous experiments, I knew nothing of him as a person, nor did I have any appreciation for the relationships between him and so many of the other internationally important physicists of his day. All of this was well described in this book.

The book was the perfect length to give some real depth to the biography while still being a fairly quick and simple rea
Caroline Caldwell
This was the first biography of Rutherford that I have read, so all the information was new to me. In addition to information about Rutherford's life, the biographer skilfully enhanced the plain facts with insights into his personality with letters from his students and colleagues. My favorite part was at the end where Rutherford begins to philosophise/theorize about the future of science. It raises the question for me of where does science need to go now?
Mar 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have an interest in turn-of-the-century physics and science history, the is a good read. A force of nature Rutherford indeed was...he and his students (including Bohr, Chadwick, Roentgen) directly had their hands in 14 Nobel prizes. An astounding body of work for the son of a simple farmer from the outlands of New Zealand.
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Richard Reeves, the bestselling author of such books as President Kennedy: Profile in Power, is an award-winning journalist who has worked for The New York Times, written for The New Yorker, and served as chief correspondent for Frontline on PBS. Currently the senior lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles.
More about Richard Reeves...

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