Rutherfordium was discovered by the multitalented physicist and politician, Rutherford B. Hayes. Hayes was a successful Cincinnati lawyer and researcher at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. He achieved early fame by representing defendants in runaway-slave cases, and by the discovery of alpha and beta radiation.
It was while Hayes was working on a modern theory of radioactivity that the Republican Party prevailed upon him to restore integrity to a political system still reeling from the scandals of the Grant Administration. The combination of his unblemished public record and his impeccable bench skills swept "Old Radioactive," as the voters fondly dubbed him, into the highest office in the land.
While president, perhaps inspired by his staunch advocacy of the gold standard, Hayes conducted a series of experiments with alpha particles and gold leaf that led to the development of his nuclear theory of the atom. His discovery of the element named after him was incidental to this research.
Rutherfordium is the only element ever to be discovered by a standing American president. We shall say nothing of the shoddy and fraudulent attempt by a certain chief executive to claim credit for "nixonium."
© 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM.