(1871-1937) a British scientist, born in New Zealand. His main interest was in the structure of the atom, and he worked for much of his career at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. In 1902 he explained the process of radioactive decay, in which one chemical element can turn into another, and he received the Nobel Prize for this work in 1908. Later work identified alpha, beta and gamma rays, and he discovered and named the proton (= part of the atom) in 1919. His work was of great importance in the later development of nuclear technology. He was made a life peer in 1931.