Formulating a theory - mathematics in Thomson and Rutherford's collaboration on x-ray ionisation

In 1897 J.J. Thomson ‘discovered’ the electron. The previous year, he and his research student Ernest Rutherford (later to ‘discover’ the atomic 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.