Saturday, March 17, 2007

A finer time

From Abraham Pais' Inward Bound:

Why did Rutherford and Soddy not use the term 'transmutation' but  rather the more neutral one, 'transformation'?  The following exchange took place while they were at work on the separation of thorium X. 


Soddy: 'Rutherford, this is transmutation...'


Rutherford: 'For Mike's sake, Soddy, don't call it transmutation.  They'll have our heads off as alchemists.'

Awesome.   The reader should of course mentally say Rutherford's line with a Kiwi accent.  

The reference, if you care, is from Howarth's (who?) biography of Soddy (who I've never heard of, let alone knew warranted a biography...)

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