Rutherford celebrated in Manchester

3 August 2011

A series of public lectures taking place next week will look at the legacy of Rutherford’s discovery and give citizens of Manchester the chance to join nuclear physicists from around the world in celebrating his 100-year-old model of the atom.

The lectures will explain how fundamental physics has moved on from Rutherford’s discovery to the huge and elaborate experiments taking place in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC); how medical physics is underpinned by our improved understanding of the atom; and, finally, the power generated by the splitting of the atom, and nuclear power’s safety record.   

The public lectures accompany the Institute of Physics’ (IOP) academic conference, ‘The Rutherford Centennial Conference on Nuclear Physics’ , as it was 100 years ago, in 1911, as chair of physics at the University of Manchester that Ernest Rutherford - now deemed the father of nuclear physics – devised the now familiar model of the atom.

When Rutherford postulated that atoms are composed of very small positively charged nuclei and orbited by electrons, he kick-started 100 years of nuclear physics.

From Monday 8 August to Wednesday 10 August, starting at 19.30 each evening, there will be three public evening lectures at the University of Manchester, Oxford Road, exploring the profound legacy of this incredible scientist.

On Monday 8 August, Dr David Jenkins, an experimental nuclear physicist from the University of York, will explain why physicists are still studying the atomic nucleus 100 years after Rutherford’s discovery and show how the science has evolved from the small scale work of Rutherford to the excitement of the LHC.

On Tuesday 9 August, Professor Alan Perkins, President of the British Nuclear Medicine Society, will look at how our understanding of the atom and its radioactive by-products have been used in medicine – from atomic soda and radioactive ointment to today’s radiopharmaceuticals.  

Rounding off, on Wednesday 10 August, John Roberts, Nuclear Fellow at the Dalton Nuclear Institute in the University of Manchester, will ask if the negative perception of nuclear energy is deserved or whether the facts tell a different story about the safety of nuclear energy.

Dr David Jenkins said, “As hundreds of physicists descend on Manchester to celebrate Rutherford’s achievements and discuss the latest developments in nuclear physics, the three talks offer an opportunity for all to hear about the significance of Rutherford’s discovery and the effect it has had on our lives.”

For further information about the talks go to, and look under Public evening lectures.

Free tickets to all of the three talks can be reserved at

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