News | Published:

The Right Hon. Lord Rutherford of Nelson, O.M., F.R.S

Nature volume 140, pages 751752 (30 October 1937) | Download Citation



I HAVE been asked by the Editor to give a brief account of my personal recollections of the late Lord Rutherford. I met him first in October 1895, when a regulation had just come into force by which graduates of other universities were admitted to Cambridge as 'research students', and after two years residence were eligible for the B.A. degree. Rutherford was the first student to apply ; he was succeeded in an hour or so by J. S. Townsend, who has since become Wykeham professor of physics at Oxford, so that the first two research students became professor of physics at Cambridge and Oxford respectively. Rutherford when in New Zealand had invented a magnetic detector of wireless waves and his first work in the Cavendish Laboratory was to try to improve its sensitiveness. He showed even at this early stage that he possessed exceptional 'driving' power and ability as an organizer. To test his detector, it was necessary to take observations simultaneously at two places, and the transport of the instrument required organization. He surmounted these difficulties by getting assistance from his friends, and at one time held the record for long distance wireless in England, having observed at the Laboratory signals which came from the Observatory about two miles away. He had not worked for more than a very few weeks before I became convinced that he was a student of quite exceptional ability.

About this article

Publication history




  1. Search for J. J. THOMSON in:


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing