was born in Nelson in 1871 and graduated with a degree in the physical sciences from Canterbury College
in 1893. He took a second degree there in geology and chemistry. Rutherford left New Zealand in 1895 to work for J. J. Thompson
at the Cavendish Laboratory
. In 1911, after working at McGill and Manchester, Rutherford deduced from the work of Marsden
that most of an atom's mass is contained in the nucleus
, thousands of times smaller. Such a discrepancy between the masses and characteristic lengths of the basic building blocks of nature had never been observed, or even remotely conceived, before.
These days physicists blithely discuss interactions from the Planck scale, to nuclear scales, to planetary scales, to the size of the Universe itself! One might be forgiven for thinking that they have been a little cursory in their consideration of some of the scales in between. After all, chemists know quite a lot about the molecular scale, but we know absolutely nothing whatsoever about what happens at the Planck scale, or anywhere near it.