Radium, Discovery of (345 words)

Historical Context Note

  • Editors
  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.


Radium was discovered in 1898 when Marie Curie (1867-1934) the Polish-born wife of French physicist Pierre Curie (1859-1906), noticed that the radioactivity of pitchblende, a uranium ore, exceeded the radioactivity of the uranium it contained. This led the Curies to isolate the cause of this radioactivity in two elements, one which they called “polonium” after Marie’s native land, and the other which they called “radium” for its power to irradiate. In consequence of her part in the discovery of what she called “radioactivity” she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics with her husband and Henri Becquerel in 1903.

Becquerel (1852-1908), a French engineer and physicist, had begun work on the phosphorescence of …

Editors. "Radium, Discovery of". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 January 2005
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1521, accessed 26 October 2016.]