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Splitting of the atom

the first artificial nuclear reaction North West,

Two white hoops on a stand, representing electron orbits, encircle a red ball, representing the nucleus in the centre.
Model of a helium atom according to Rutherford-Bohr theory, 1913. Science Museum/ Science & Society

By the end of the 19th century it was already understood that the world could be divided into smaller and smaller parts. In 1911 Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), Chair of Physics at the University of Manchester, revealed the nature of these parts.

Rutherford developed a model which described atoms as structured much like our Solar System, with small particles called electrons circling a dense nucleus at the centre. 

Important as this was, arguably his greatest discovery occurred six years later. In 1917 he showed that if radioactive particles were fired at the nucleus of a nitrogen atom it would disintegrate and release protons. Rutherford had split the atom and created the first artificially induced nuclear reaction. 

Science Museum

Physics, Chemistry,
North West
University of Manchester, Manchester
Key Individuals
Ernest Rutherford,