Formulating a Theory: Mathematics in Thomson & Rutherford's collaboration on x-ray ionisation

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


In 1897 J.J. Thomson 'discovered' the electron. The previous year, he and his research student Ernest Rutherford (later to 'discover' theatomic nucleus), collaborated in experiments to work out why gases exposed to x-rays became conducting.

This talk will discuss the very different mathematical educations of the two men, and the impact these differences had on their experimental investigation and the theory they arrived at. This theory formed the backdrop to Thomson's electron work the following year.
Period9 Nov 2018
Held atUniversity of Oxford, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • history of physics
  • history of mathematics
  • J.J. Thomson
  • Rutherford