The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1908
Born: 30 August 1871, Nelson, New Zealand
Died: 19 October 1937, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: Victoria University, Manchester, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: “for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances”
Prize share: 1/1
The discovery of radioactivity in 1896 led to a series of more in-depth investigations. In 1899 Ernest Rutherford demonstrated that there were at least two distinct types of radiation: alpha radiation and beta radiation. He discovered that radioactive preparations gave rise to the formation of gases. Working with Frederick Soddy, Rutherford advanced the hypothesis that helium gas could be formed from radioactive substances. In 1902 they formulated a revolutionary theory: that elements could disintegrate and be transformed into other elements.