[Ed. note: E.TS. Walton and John Cockcroft made history in the early 1930s by bombarding atomic nuclei with accelerated protons and "splitting the atom." But experimental physics was a low-tech, low-budget enterprise, then compared to today. "We had to make various parts of our apparatus," Walton recalled in a recent interview with The Scientist’s Bernard Dixon. “But before requesting the necessary materials, everyone was expected to see if items salvaged from unwanted apparatus could be used. I wasted lots of time searching for suitable screws in a large box of rusty ones."]

Now aged 84, Irishman Walton still drives over from his home in Dublin for seminars at Trinity College, from which he retired as Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy 14 years ago. He is principally famed for his work on the structure of the atom, for which he shared the 1951 Nobel Prize with Cockcroft....

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