From Alchemy to Chemistry:
Five Hundred Years of Rare and Interesting Books

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rare Book Room Exhibit

RUTHERFORD, ERNEST (1871 - 1937). Radioactivity. Cambridge, 1904.

The first textbook on radioactivity, surveying contemporary knowledge of the entire field. Radioactivity had been discovered by Becquerel in 1896, but it is to Rutherford that we owe much of the early knowledge of its properties. Research progressed so rapidly in this area that the second edition, published only a year later, had to be enlarged by fifty percent. The book includes a discussion of Rutherford's revolutionary transformation theory, developed during the period 1902-1903, which states that radioactivity is a by-product of the transmutation of one element into another. The copy on display is opened to the page describing Rutherford's discovery of the mathematics of radioactive decay and that each radioactive substance has a characteristic half-life.

Norman Library of Science, 1870.

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