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The physics course required an original investigation so Ern elected to extend an undergraduate experiment in order to determine if iron was magnetic at very high frequencies of magnetising current.

In this he had been inspired by Nikola Tesla's use of his high frequency Tesla coil to transmit power without wires.

Ernest Rutherford left New Zealand in 1895 as a highly skilled 23-year-old who held three degrees from the University of New Zealand and had a reputation as an outstanding researcher and innovator working at the forefront of electrical technology.

His brilliance at experimental research was already established.

Amongst the many suggested experiments in it one, on using the speed of sound to determine the distance to a firing cannon, gave him the knowledge to surprise his family by estimating the distance to a lighting flash.

Perhaps it was also this book which inspired him to make a minature cannon out of a hat peg, a marble and blasting powder.

For example, the first method invented to detect individual nuclear particles by electrical means, the Rutherford-Geiger detector, evolved into the Geiger-Muller tube.

The modern smoke detector, responsible for saving so many lives in house fires, can be traced back to 1899 when, at His background is rather unique, having been born in New Zealand, a country which, within a mere 50 years of formal European settlement of that remote British Colony, could admit him to its, already 20-year-old, university. James became a wheelwright and engineer, and later a flax-miller.Ern developed two devices; a simple mechanism for switching two electrical circuits with a time interval between them which could be adjusted to be as short as a hundred thousandth of a second, and a magnetic detector of very fast current pulses.In 1893 Ern obtained a Master of Arts degree with double First Class Honours, in Mathematics and Mathematical Physics and in Physical Science (Electricity and Magnetism).The Royal Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851 had just initiated scholarships to allow graduates of universities in the where he took geology and chemistry for a BSc degree.(A candidate for a scholarship had to be enrolled at the University.) For the research work required of a candidate, Ern extended his researches of the previous year to even higher frequencies using the damped oscillatory current from discharging a Leyden-jar (an electrical capacitor) or a Hertzian oscillator.adapted his detector of very fast transient currents for use as a frequency meter and used it to measure the dielectric properties of electrical insulators.