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.
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At this time he boarded with a widow, Mary Newton, who, as secretary of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, was a leader in the movement which culminated in 1893 when Having failed for the third time to obtain a permanent job as a school-teacher, and having briefly considered going into medicine, Ern had few other options for a career.
He seemed to be limited to tutoring, to help support himself whilst carrying out more research in electrical science.
He showed that a steel needle surrounded by a wire loop in the discharge circuit was indeed magnetised for frequencies as high as 500 million per second.
By slowly dissolving the needle in acid he showed that only a very thin surface layer of the needle was magnetised. (His brother later became the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.) Maclaurin could not accept the terms of the scholarship so the University therefore nominated Ern, the only other candidate, who was duly awarded it.
The cannon exploded, luckily without causing injury.
Ernest was lucky to avoid the drowning fate of two of his brothers and lucky to be taught by a country school-teacher of above average ability.
So Ernest Rutherford and his siblings received a good education because of parents who appreciated education: his father because he hadn't had much and his mother because she had..
Family chores, such as milking cows and gathering firewood, ate up time after school.
As a boy Ernest was surrounded by hard-working people with technical skills. and arrived in New Plymouth in 1855 as a thirteen-year old.
She was evacuated to Nelson in 1860 during the Taranaki Land War.
In 1892 he passed BA in Pure Mathematics and Latin (both compulsory), Applied Mathematics, English, French and Physics. This allowed him to return for a further (honours or Masters) year during which he took both mathematics and physics.