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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).
In 1889 he was head boy (the Dux of the school, hence his nick-name `quacks'), played in the rugby team and, once again on his second attempt, won one of the ten scholarships available nationally to assist attendance at a college of the University of New Zealand. There he played rugby and participated in the activities of the Dialectic Society (a student debating society), the graduation day celebrations (for which he co-wrote one song) and the recently formed Science Society.
Had it not been for that war James and Martha would never have met.
Martha became a teacher at the Spring Grove school where her efforts were always praised by the provincial school inspector.
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.