Brooks and Rutherford Emanate

The more physics you have the less engineering you need. (Ernest Rutherford)

Portrait of Ernest Rutherford by R.G. Matthews, 1907

Portrait of Ernest Rutherford by R.G. Matthews, 1907

Physics at McGill was born in 1891 when the tobacco manufacturer, William Macdonald, dedicated funding for a new Physics Building and for the creation of the Macdonald Chair in Physics. In 1893 the Macdonald Physics Building opened and the M.Sc. program was established.

This was almost three decades before Ernest Rutherford split the core of the atom in 1919 and declared that he had “broken the machine and touched the ghost of matter”. The nucleus of Rutherford’s experiments into ‘transmutation of matter’ had started in a basement lab of the Macdonald Physics building in 1898. His instruments and apparatus, concocted with the help of laboratory assistants out of wire, wax and glass apparatus which they blew themselves, are today preserved and exhibited at the Rutherford Physics Museum. (more…)

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