You are on page 1of 6

Discovery of Radioactivity

Natural radioactivity was first observed in 1896 by A. H. Becquerel, who discovered that when salts of uranium are brought into the vicinity of an unexposed photographic plate carefully protected from light, the plate becomes exposed. The radiation from uranium salts also causes a charged electroscope to discharge. In addition, the salts exhibit phosphorescence and are able to produce fluorescence. Since these effects are produced both by salts and by pure uranium, radioactivity must be a property of the element and not of the salt. In 1899 E. Rutherford discovered and named alpha and beta radiation, and in 1900 P. Villard identified gamma radiation. Marie and Pierre Curie extended the work on radioactivity, demonstrating the radioactive properties of thorium and discovering the highly radioactive element radium in 1898. Frédéric and Irène Joliot-Curie discovered the first example of artificial radioactivity in 1934 by bombarding nonradioactive elements with alpha particles

radioactivity

radioactivity, spontaneous disintegration or decay of the nucleus of an atom by emission of particles, usually accompanied by electromagnetic radiation. The energy produced by radioactivity has important military and industrial applications. However, the rays emitted by radioactive substances can cause radiation sickness, and such substances must therefore be handled with extreme care (see radioactive waste).

Curie

Curie (kürē') [key], family of French scientists. Pierre Curie,. 18591906, scientist, and his wife, Marie Sklodowska Curie,. 18671934, chemist and physicist, b. Warsaw, are known for their work on radioactivity and on radium. The Curies' daughter Irène (see under Joliot-Curie, family) was also a scientist.

Pierre Curie's early work dealt with crystallography and with the effects of temperature on magnetism; he discovered (1883) and, with his brother Jacques Curie, investigated piezoelectricity (a form of electric polarity) in crystals. Marie Sklodowska's interest in science was stimulated by her father, a professor of physics in Warsaw. In 1891 she went to Paris to continue her studies at the Sorbonne. In 1895 she married Pierre Curie and engaged in independent research in his laboratory at the municipal school of physics and chemistry where Pierre was director of laboratories (from 1882) and professor (from 1895).

Following A. H. Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity, Mme Curie began to investigate uranium, a radioactive element found in pitchblende. In 1898 she reported a probable new element in pitchblende, and Pierre Curie joined in her research. They discovered (1898) both polonium and radium, laboriously isolated one gram of radium salts from about eight tons of pitchblende, and determined the atomic weights and properties of radium and polonium. The Curies refused to patent their processes or otherwise to profit from the commercial exploitation

of radium. For their work on radioactivity they shared with Becquerel the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics.

The Sorbonne created (1904) a special chair of physics for Pierre Curie; Marie Curie was appointed his successor after his death in a street accident. She also retained her professorship (assumed in 1900) at the normal school at Sèvres and continued her research. In 1910 she isolated (with André Debierne) metallic radium. As the recipient of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry she was the first person to be awarded a second Nobel Prize. She was made director of the laboratory of radioactivity at the Curie Institute of Radium, established jointly by the Univ. of Paris and the Pasteur Institute, for research on radioactivity and for radium therapy.

During World War I, Mme Curie devoted her energies to providing radiological services for hospitals. In 1921 a gram of radium, a gift from American women, was presented to her by President Harding; this she accepted in behalf of the Curie Institute. A second gram, presented in 1929, was given by Mme Curie to the newly founded Curie Institute in Warsaw. Five years later she died from the effects of radioactivity. In 1995 Marie and Pierre Curie's ashes were enshrined in the Panthéon, Paris; she was the first woman to be honored so in her own right.

Among the numerous and valuable writings of the Curies are Marie Curie's doctoral dissertation, Radioactive Substances (1902, 2 vol.; tr. 1961); Traité de radioactivité (1910); Radioactivité (1935); and her biography of Pierre Curie (1923, tr. 1923). Pierre Curie's collected works appeared in 1908. A biography of Marie Curie was written by a daughter, Ève Curie (tr. 1937). See also biographies by R. W. Reid (1974), F. Giroud (tr. 1986), S. Quinn (1995), and B. Goldsmith (2004).

Marie Curie, née Maria Sklodowska, was born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867, the daughter of a secondary-school teacher. She received a general education in local schools and some scientific training from her father. She became involved in a students' revolutionary organization and found it prudent to leave Warsaw, then in the part of Poland dominated by Russia, for Cracow, which at that time was under Austrian rule. In 1891, she went to Paris to continue her studies at the Sorbonne where she obtained Licenciateships in Physics and the Mathematical Sciences. She met Pierre Curie, Professor in the School of Physics in 1894 and in the following year they were married. She succeeded her husband as Head of the Physics Laboratory at the Sorbonne, gained her Doctor of Science degree in 1903, and following the tragic death of Pierre Curie in 1906, she took his place as Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences, the first time a woman had held this position. She was also appointed Director of the Curie Laboratory in the Radium Institute of the University of Paris, founded in 1914.

Her early researches, together with her husband, were often performed under difficult conditions, laboratory arrangements were poor and both had to undertake much teaching to earn a livelihood. The discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in 1896 inspired the Curies in their brilliant researches and analyses which led to the isolation of polonium, named after the country of Marie's birth, and radium. Mme. Curie developed methods for the separation of radium from radioactive residues in sufficient quantities to allow for its characterization and the careful study of its properties, therapeutic properties in particular.

Mme. Curie throughout her life actively promoted the use of radium to alleviate suffering and during World War I, assisted by her daughter, Irene, she personally devoted herself to this remedial work. She retained her enthusiasm for science throughout her life and did much to establish a radioactivity laboratory in her native city - in 1929 President Hoover of the United States presented her with a gift of $ 50,000, donated by American friends of science, to purchase radium for use in the laboratory in Warsaw.

Mme. Curie, quiet, dignified and unassuming, was held in high esteem and admiration by scientists throughout the world. She was a member of the Conseil du Physique Solvay from 1911 until her death and since 1922 she had been a member of the Committee of Intellectual Co- operation of the League of Nations. Her work is recorded in numerous papers in scientific journals and she is the author of Recherches sur les Substances Radioactives (1904), L'Isotopie et les Éléments Isotopes and the classic Traité' de Radioactivité (1910).

The importance of Mme. Curie's work is reflected in the numerous awards bestowed on her. She received many honorary science, medicine and law degrees and honorary memberships of learned societies throughout the world. Together with her husband, she was awarded half of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, for their study into the spontaneous radiation discovered by Becquerel, who was awarded the other half of the Prize. In 1911 she received a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, in recognition of her work in radioactivity. She also received, jointly with her husband, the Davy Medal of the Royal Society in 1903 and, in 1921, President Harding of the United States, on behalf of the women of America, presented her with one gram of radium in recognition of her service to science.

For further details, cf. Biography of Pierre Curie. Mme. Curie died in Savoy, France, after a short illness, on July 4, 1934.

Dr. Marie Curie is known to the world as the scientist who discovered radioactive metals i.e. Radium & Polonium.

Marie Curie was a Polish physicist and chemist who lived between 1867-1934. Together with her husband, Pierre, she discovered two new elements (radium and polonium, two radioactive elements that they extracted chemically from pitchblende ore) and studied the x-rays they emitted. She found that the harmful properties of x-rays were able to kill tumors. By the end of World War I, Marie Curie was probably the most famous woman in the world. She had made a conscious decision, however, not to patent methods of processing radium or its medical applications.

Marie Curie was born November 7, 1867 in Poland and died on July 4, 1934. Her co- discovery with her husband Pierre Curie of the radioactive elements radium and polonium represents one of the best known stories in modern science for which they were recognized in 1901 with the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1911, Marie Curie was honored with a second Nobel prize, this time in chemistry, to honor her for successfully isolating pure radium and determining radium's atomic weight.

As a child, Marie Curie amazed people with her great memory. She learned to read when she was only four years old. Her father was a professor of science and the instruments that he kept in a glass case fascinated Marie. She dreamed of becoming a scientist, but that would not be easy. Her family became very poor, and at the age of 18, Marie became a

governess. She helped pay for her sister to study in Paris. Later, her sister helped Marie with her education. In 1891, Marie attended the Sorbonne University in Paris where she met and married Pierre Curie, a well-known physicist.

governess. She helped pay for her sister to study in Paris. Later, her sister helped Marie