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On Saturdays the boys were free for swimming in the creek, and birdsnesting to raise money for catapult rubber and kite strings.

So Ernest Rutherford and his siblings received a good education because of parents who appreciated education: his father because he hadn't had much and his mother because she had..

Family chores, such as milking cows and gathering firewood, ate up time after school.

Encouraged by Sir Robert Ball, who wished to solve the difficult problem that a ship could not detect a lighthouse in fog, and sensing fame and fortune, Rutherford increased the sensitivity of his apparatus until, in February of 1896, he could detect electromagnetic waves over a distance of several hundred metres, a then world record. Thomson invited him to join in a study of the electrical conduction of gases.

Wireless telegraphy was thus left for Guglielmo Marconi to develop and commercialize.

Or put another way, he was first to split the atom.

Any of his secondary discoveries, such as dating the age of the Earth, would have given fame to a lesser scientist.

In 1887 Ernest, on his second attempt, won a Scholarship to .

In 1889 he was head boy (the Dux of the school, hence his nick-name `quacks'), played in the rugby team and, once again on his second attempt, won one of the ten scholarships available nationally to assist attendance at a college of the University of New Zealand. There he played rugby and participated in the activities of the Dialectic Society (a student debating society), the graduation day celebrations (for which he co-wrote one song) and the recently formed Science Society.

For example, the first method invented to detect individual nuclear particles by electrical means, the Rutherford-Geiger detector, evolved into the Geiger-Muller tube.

The modern smoke detector, responsible for saving so many lives in house fires, can be traced back to 1899 when, at His background is rather unique, having been born in New Zealand, a country which, within a mere 50 years of formal European settlement of that remote British Colony, could admit him to its, already 20-year-old, university. James became a wheelwright and engineer, and later a flax-miller.

adapted his detector of very fast transient currents for use as a frequency meter and used it to measure the dielectric properties of electrical insulators.