What do we know about the discovery of radium?

The discovery of radium is one of the most interesting stories in science. The story begins with the research of the French physicist Antoine-Henri Becquerel of the ore called pitchblende containing the element uranium. Becquerel found that pitchblende gives off radiation.

Becquerel’s discovery caused great excitement among scientists. Many physicists stopped their own research and began to study this novelty. A scientist couple Marie and Pierre Curie were especially interested in pitchblende.

Eventually, they isolated a new element that gave off more intense radiation than pitchblende itself. The Curies named this new element polonium. That was not the end. They believed that there would be at least one other element in the pitchblende.

The couple continued with their studies and in 1898, they isolated a second new element- radium. Radium gave away intense radiations and it took the Curies another four years to prepare one gram of the element. To do so, they had to sift through more than seven metric tons of pitchblende!

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