Reference numberAV/3/9
TitleFilm about Lord Rutherford
DateDecember 1935
DescriptionB/W print with optical sound track. Interior daylight. Location likely. The Royal Society. Camera track in after title sequence fade. Lord Rutherford seated, speaks directly to camera. Series of edits and new camera angles introduced during address adds dimension and movement.

Opening titles sequence; fade up from black. Roll titles; The Rt. Hon. Lord Rutherford of Nelson, OM, FRS, Pioneer in Atomic Physics. This picture was made in December 1935 when Lord Rutherford was 64 years of age. He was born at Nelson, New Zealand in 1871. After holding Professorships of Physics in McGill University, Montreal, and in the University of Manchester he was in 1919 appointed Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge University, and Director of the Cavendish Laboratory. His researches into the ultimate structure of matter are world famous and are still in active progress. He was President of the Royal Society from 1925 to 1930 and among other honours and awards too numerous to mention, he received the Faraday Medal of the Institution [of Electrical Engineers] in 1930.
Fade to black.
Transcript of spoken content;

Open interior scene. Daylight. Camera tracks in to m/s (mid shot.)
'The methods and ideas employed to break up atoms, the old dream of alchemists transmutation of one element to another. This is a problem which I have been personally engaged during the greater part of my scientific lilfe, and during this time I have witnessed an astonishing increase of our knowledge.
Edit, m/s (mid shot) side angle
At the close of the 19th century, the labours of the chemist have resolved the matter of our material world into eighty or more distinct elements and the atoms of these elements appear to be permanent and indestructible by the forces then at our command. A great change in our ideas resulted in the discovery of the electron and of the spontaneous radioactivity observed in the heavy elements, uranium and thorium.
Edit. Cut to c/s (close shot)
Soddy and I were able to show in 1903 that radioactivity was sign and measure of the instability of atoms and that the atoms of uranium and thorium wee undergoing a series of transformation, giving rise to thirty or more new radioactive elements. These elements were ephemeral and broke up according to a definite law and either a mass of alpha particles or a light beta prticles wa hurled out during the explosion of an atom. It soon became clear that this property of radioactivity was vconfined to only a few elelments, while the great majority of the ordinary elelments seemed to be permanently stable over periods of time, measured by the geological epochs.
Edit. Cut to reverse side angle mid close shot.
The next problem to be examined were the means to be found to break up the stable elements by artificial methods. Before this could be attempted with any chance of success it was necessary to have a clearer conception of the structure of atoms. The idea of the nuclear structure of atoms which I suggested in 1911 has proved very useful for this purpose. It became clear that to effect a veritable transformation of an atom, it was necessary to change the charge or mass of a nucleus or both together. Now the minute nuclei of atoms are held together by powerful forces and to effect their disintegration it seemed likely that a very concentrated source of energy must be applied to the individual atom. The bombardment of the nuclei by the energetic alpha particles from radium appear to be most promising methods for such a purpose.
Acting on these views, I found in 1919 the nitrogen nuclei could be transformed by bombarding thenm with swift alpha particles. Hydrogen nuclei or 'protons' as we now term them, being ejected with high speed as a result of the transformation. Later we were able to show that the number of light elelments could be transformed in a similar way.
Edit. Cut to reverse angle c/s (close shot)
Progress in our knowledge of the mechanisms of the strengths of thesee transformation became more rapid when powerful elelctric methods were developed to count automatically the swif tparticle ejected during the nuclear explosions. It became clear that to extend our knowledge a more copious supply of bombarding particles fo different kinds was necessary. Charged atoms fo various sorts can be produced in vast numbers by the electric discharge through gases and then accelerated by the usse fo high voltages. In this way we have been able to obtain for our experiments in transmutation intense beams of protons and alpha particles. While the discovery of heavy hydrogen has given us a new projectile of remarkable efficiency in transmuting atoms.
Edit. Cut to m/s (mid shot) front angle
By these and other new methods we are able to break up atoms in a great variety of ways and produce a number of new elelments or rather isotopes of known elelments not observed before. Some of these are found to be unstable and break up according to a definite law, like a radioactive element. The discovery in these experiments of neutrons unchrged atoms [madged??] one has proved of great significance and importance, and has given us a much clearer understanding of the actual structure of nuclei. This new field of work is now attracting much attention throughout the scientific world, and the progress fo our knowledge is very rapid.
We are witnessing today the rise of a new department of fundamental knowledge, 'nuclear chemistry'. Which is concerned with reactions and changes which may be brought about in the minute world of the atomic nucleus.'

Fade to black. End title; The End

16mm film
Black & White
Sound: Optical
Film stock: Agfa
Film length: 250 feet

This copy is a new print, c1971.
Extent270 feet - 7 minutes
Physical description16mm - Single Perf. Combined Optical Sound Track. Black and white positive print B-Wind (Reversal). Positive film stock - print made from original cut negative. Sound volume on optical sound track is low. 24 fps Running Speed. Presented; Head out/Emulsion out. B-Wind reversal. Film stock; Agfa Geveart 1S B/W (Reversal). Wound on 3 inch film core. Countdown leader (reversed image) White spacing leader at head/tail.
Special interest; Early 16mm sound motion picture. Probably RCA 'documentary' camera. Material also indicates shot A and B camera (two camera set up). Indicated produced by master film maker, likely directed and edited by the same hand.
Access statusOpen
Fellows associated with this archive
NA8278Rutherford; Ernest (1871 - 1937); Baron Rutherford of Nelson1871 - 1937
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