The story that bonds Ernest Rutherford and Marcus Oliphant is as extraordinary as it is unlikely. They were kindred souls, schooled and steeped in the furthest frontiers of Britain's empire, whose restless intellect and tireless conviction fused in the crucible of discovery at Cambridge University's celebrated Cavendish Laboratory, at a time when nature's deepest secrets were being revealed. Their brilliance illuminated the sub-atomic recesses of the natural world and, as a direct result, set loose the power of nuclear fusion.
It was a heartfelt, enduring partnership, born at the University of Adelaide's modest physics department and flourishing further in the confines of the Cavendish before ultimately driving the famed Manhattan Project, which produced the world's first nuclear weapons, unleashed to such devastating effect on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Rutherford and Oliphant were men with a shared devotion to pure science, who, through circumstance and necessity, found themselves betrayed as instruments of the war they detested but were duty-bound to prosecute. Consequently, their influence was pivotal in the last great global conflict the world witnessed and in engendering the thermonuclear threat that has held the planet hostage ever since. Yet their pioneering work lives on too in a vast array of innovations seeded by nuclear physics, from radiocarbon dating and TV screens to life-saving diagnostic-imaging devices.
About the Author
Andrew Ramsey is a journalist and author who has written about cricket for more than 20 years.In addition to having his work published in numerous newspapers around the world including The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Hindustan Times and The Hindu, he has been a contributor to Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.
He has covered around 100 Test matches including a number of Ashes series in Australia and England, among them the 2005 campaign in the United Kingdom regarded as the 'greatest Ashes battle of the modern era' and Australia's dual 5-0 whitewash summers on home soil in 2006-07 and 2013-14. His book The Wrong Line, which chronicles the travails of the travelling cricket writer, was published in 2012. He is currently Senior Writer with cricket.com.au and, when not ensconced in a press box or an airport, lives in Adelaide, South Australia.