Scarce first separate printings of 3 papers on radium by Ernest Rutherford, the „father of nuclear physics“, 1908/1911
Ernest RUTHERFORD: UNTERSUCHUNGEN ÜBER DIE RADIUMEMANATION. [Experiments with the Radium Emanation.] 2 vol. 1 plate. First separate printings. Wien: 1908 (I) and 1911 (II).
Ernest RUTHERFORD: UNTERSUCHUNGEN ÜBER DIE RADIUMEMANATION. [Experiments with the Radium Emanation.] 2 vol.: I. Volumen der Emanation [The Volume of the Emanation.] II. Die Umwandlungsgeschwindigkeit [Conversion Rate]. With 1 plate. Aus den Sitzungsberichten der Kaiserl. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien. Mathem.-naturw. Klasse; Bd. CXVII. Abt. IIa. Juli 1908 (I) and Bd. CXX. Abt. IIa. März 1911. (= Mitteilungen der Radium-Kommission der kaiserl. Akademie der Wissenschaften. III and VII). Wien: Verlag der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften (in commission at Alfred Hölder [K.-k. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei]) 1908 (I) and 1911 (II).
Imperial 8vo (24,5:16 cm). 18 pages, 1 plate; 10 pages; 24 pages. Cliché printing and letterpress on machine paper, in original publisher’s brochures on salmon-coloured stock with black title printing.
Very scarce first separate printings of three important papers on radium by Ernest Rutherford, the „father of nuclear physics“.
Author, Contents: New Zealand-born British nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) already had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry when he moved from McGill University in Montreal to Victoria University of Manchester. To be able to continue his research he was particularly keen to obtain larger quantities of radium. On the other hand in 1905 the Austrian government, then a major player in international efforts to explore radioactivity, had „set up a radium production plant, and two years later it embargoed all exports of uranium ore and products in an attempt to monopolise the market. This continued until about 1913, when other sources could be exploited, for example from Cornwall, Portugal and Colorado.“ (…) „Thus, when Rutherford moved to Manchester in 1907 Austria was the only place to obtain significant quantities of radium.“ (Todd) To promote research with the radium at hand the Austrian Academy of Science with the help of investor Karl Kupelwieser, the uncle of Ludwig Wittgenstein, had set up a »Radium-Kommission«, which in 1910 became the famous Vienna Institute for Radium Research (Institut für Radiumforschung). Thanks to his personal contacts to Austrian Chemist Otto Brill Rutherford could organise a considerable quantity of radium in early February 1908 and immediately started experiments to obtain emanation in his laboratory until May 1908.
The documented results of Rutherford’s experiments then were first printed simultaneously in the English original as a journal issue (Phil. Mag., vol. 6), as well as in present German translation, this being the first separate printing. The first offprint of the English version was published only one month later, in August 1908. According to Chadwick et al. the follow up paper from 1911 (»II. Die Umwandlungsgeschwindigkeit«) was published first as present by the Austrian Academy in German translation, as this is true for the 3rd paper of this lot (see enclosed).
ENCLOSED: Ernest Rutherford and Bertram B. Boltwood: Die Erzeugung von Helium durch Radium. [The Generation of Helium through Radium.] Aus dem physikalischen Laboratorium der Universität Manchester. With 3 text illustrations. Aus den Sitzungsberichten der Kaiserl. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien. Mathem.-naturw. Klasse; Bd. CXX. Abt. IIa. März 1911. (= Mitteilungen der Radium-Kommission der kaiserl. Akademie der Wissenschaften. VIII).
Condition: Front wrapper of the 1908 paper in parts loose, front wrapper of the 1911 paper on Helium with one small chip, wrappers at margins with some small tears and time-stained, otherwise well preserved, in parts uncut set of 3 issues.
Rarity: RBH show no auction results at all.
Reference: James Chadwick et al., ed.: The Collected Papers of Lord Rutherford of Nelson. Vol. 2: Manchester. New York: Interscience (Wiley) 1963; Todd N. A brief history of Lord Rutherford’s radium. Notes Rec R Soc Lond. 2014;68(3):279-300, cit. p. 284 and p. 286 (sketch of the apparatus). doi:10.1098/rsnr.2013.0070; Ernest Rutherford: Experiments with the Radium Emanation. I. The volume of the Emanation. In: »The London, Edinburgh and Dublin philosophical magazine and journal of science«, ser. 6, vol. 16 (1908), pp. 300-312).