Tag Archives: physics

the finest of all sports

“Besides Rutherford’s crowd of “boys,”several individual researchers worked at Cavendish, legatees of J.J. Thomson. One who pursued a different but related interest was a slim, handsome, athletic, wealthy experimentalist named Francis William Aston, the son of a Birmingham gunmaker’s daughter and a Harborne metal merchant. As a child Aston made picric-acid bombs from soda-bottle cartridges and designed and launched huge tissue-paper fire balloons; as an adult, a lifelong bachelor, heir after 1908 to his father’s wealth, he skied, built and raced motorcycles, played cello and took elegant trips around the world, stopping off in Honolulu in 1909, at thirty two, to learn surfing, which he thereafter declared to be the finest of all sports.”

from “THE MAKING OF THE ATOMIC BOMB” by Richard Rhodes