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A peculiar element

WHAT IS RADIOACTIVITY AND HOW DID IT CARVE OUT MARIE CURIE'S PLACE IN SCIENTIFIC HISTORY?
DIVE INTO THE SCIENCE.

A peculiar element

PAY ATTENTION

IN 1895, WILHELM ROENTGEN FOUND A NEW KIND OF RADIATION (NAMED 'X-RAYS') WHICH COULD PASS THROUGH SOLID OBJECTS. A YEAR LATER, HENRI BECQUEREL NOTICED THAT URANIUM GAVE OFF ANOTHER KIND OF INVISIBLE RAYS.

MARIE, BECQUEREL'S STUDENT, WAS PAYING ATTENTION: WHILE EVERYONE ELSE TALKED ABOUT X-RAYS, SHE KNEW THAT BECQUEREL'S RAYS COULD MEAN BIG THINGS.

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A peculiar element

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TESTING EVERY ELEMENT WITH AN ELECTROMETER INVENTED BY PIERRE, MARIE FOUND THAT THORIUM ALSO GAVE OUT BECQUEREL RAYS.

SHE CAME UP WITH A REVOLUTIONARY THEORY: THE RAYS CAME FROM SOMETHING THAT WAS HAPPENING INSIDE THE URANIUM AND THORIUM ATOMS THEMSELVES.

HOW RADIOACTIVITY WORKS

The nucleus at the centre of an atom is made up of protons and neutrons and has a positive electrical charge, while the electrons – which circle around the nucleus - have a negative charge.

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A peculiar element

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The next step was to study a mineral called pitchblende, which contained uranium ore, but oddly was more radioactive than uranium itself.

Stirring huge vats in the ‘miserable old shed’ that was their laboratory, the Curies managed to extract a black powder 330x more radioactive than uranium.

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A peculiar element

DON’T GIVE UP

Even with the polonium taken out, the remaining liquid was still suspiciously radioactive. A second element was lurking in there. Getting a sample was back-breaking work.

discover more

A peculiar element

WHAT IS RADIOACTIVITY AND HOW DID IT CARVE OUT MARIE CURIE'S PLACE IN SCIENTIFIC HISTORY?
DIVE INTO THE SCIENCE.

Watch

PAY ATTENTION

CHALLENGE EVERYTHING

cause a stir

DON’T GIVE UP

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