The Discovery of Radium

By Cavendish, Richard | History Today, December 1998 | Go to article overview

The Discovery of Radium


Cavendish, Richard, History Today


December 20th, 1898

A few days before the Christmas of 1898, Pierre Curie scrawled the word `radium' in his notebook as the name for a new element he and his wife Marie had brought laboriously to light in their ramshackle laboratory in Paris. Radium is a brilliant white, luminescent, rare and highly radioactive metallic element. The name comes from the Latin word radius, meaning `ray'. The notebook in which the name first appears is still highly radioactive and dangerous.

Pierre Curie was a Parisian doctor's son, born in 1859, who studied at the Sorbonne and in 1882 was appointed head of the laboratory at the School of Physics and Chemistry in Paris. Marie Curie was a Pole, who started life in Warsaw as Maria Sklodowska in 1867, the daughter of a teacher of maths and physics. Prodigiously bright and dedicated, she went to Paris in 1891 to study science and live in a Latin Quarter garret on tea and bread and butter. She met Pierre and they fell in love and were married in 1895, when she was twenty-seven and he thirty-six. It was a happy partnership of two people absorbed in science and each other.

Marie started working in a storage space on the ground floor of the Physics and Chemistry school where Pierre was teaching. It had brick walls, one or two rickety chairs and a few wooden worktables. They built their own ionisation chamber out of wooden grocery crates. Marie sat at one of the worktables with a flimsy apparatus of rods, cylinders and wires. On February 17th, 1898, she tested a sample of heavy black pitchblende (a naturally-occurring mineral containing uranium) which she found was emitting unexpectedly strong radiation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Discovery of Radium
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.