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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 17. August 3, 1950

Florance on Rutherford

Florance on Rutherford

Last Thursday, July 27, saw a large crowd gather in C3 to hear Professor Florence, patron of the Maths and Physics Society, give his last address before retiring. He spoke on the life and work of the famous New Zealander Lord Rutherford, under whom Professor Florence had worked for some years as a research student and lecturer. The speaker reviewed two of the books he had purchased as part of a prize won at Canterbury College. One was "Radioactive Transformations," the work in which Lord Rutherford gained fame, and the other "Heroes and Hero-Worship." In tracing Rutherford's life, from N.Z. to England, Montreal, and back to England, it was interesting to hear extracts from some of Rutherford's own letters concerning his own discoveries, and the controversies which he raised among scientists, particularly the antagonism of Lord Kelvin. During the period 1897-1906. Rutherford published forty papers, mostly under his own name, and a few in conjunction with others. This was then rapidly followed by two books, and then just a steady flow of contributions to science literature.

He was always a man of unbounded energy, and with very good health, and his capabilities and enthusiasm for work were enormous. He seemed able to go on and on. Professor Florance felt that many writers have over-emphasised Rutherford's fits of depression, and their effects on his students; he himself had never found them as bad as was made out, but he thought one description of Rutherford was perhaps not far wrong: when he enters the laboratory it is like the rising of the sun, but sometimes it is like the rising of a black thunder cloud. Professor Florence favoured the title of one of the biographies of the great scientist as an over-all picture of the man—"Man of Power."

The showing of the professor's own slides throughout the course of the address added great interest, and the supper afterwards, in preparing which Miss Jane Florence gave noble assistance, finalised a most enjoyable evening.

The next meeting, and last for this year, is on Aug. 10, when Mr. S. R. Searle asks "What is Probability?"