How And When Was Radium Discovered?

In this article, we are going to discuss how and when was Radium discovered.

Radium is one of the radioactive elements which constantly emit invisible radiation. The radiations are called radioactive rays. Due to their destructive abilities, these rays are quite potent and can be utilized to help control diseases like cancer.

In total, there are three types of radioactive rays – alpha, beta, and gamma. Due to the emissions of these rays, a radioactive element slowly disintegrates and gets converted into a different element. Radium disintegrates and finally changes into lead. Half of it must be converted into lead over a period of 1622 years. This period of time, known as the radioactive element’s “half-life,” indicates that it will take another 1622 years for radium to entirely transform into lead.

The brilliant minds and tireless labor of Madam Marie Curie and Pierre Curie, a famous married couple, are what led to the discovery of radium and its practical applications.

Henri Becquerel had already discovered the phenomena of radioactivity in uranium in 1896. He found that uranium emits radiations that are invisible to the human eye but are more powerful than X-rays. In 1896, the Curie couple found that thorium also emits similar radiations. They also thought that pitchblende, an ore of uranium, must include another radioactive material. But much more ore must be processed in order to find this. This was not an easy task. The couple worked tirelessly day and night although they were poor and could not afford a comfortable laboratory for the work.

Despite the rain, storm, and cold, they toiled away in a tin shack until they ultimately succeeded in removing 100 milligrams of radium from many tonnes of pitchblende.

For their discovery, Marie and Pierre Curie received the Nobel Prize in 1903. The unit of measure of the ‘specific activity of a radioactive preparation is named ‘Curie’ in their honor.

Also Read: What Is Fire?

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