Extraction of radium, 1898-1902

Extraction of radium, 1898-1902

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Extraction of radium. Part of the apparatus used by the Curies and their assistants in the period 1898-1902 in a shed in Paris, France, to isolate the newly discovered radioactive element radium. This involved processing tons of pitchblende, a uranium-rich ore. The probable existence of radium had been announced by Polish-French physicist Marie Curie and her husband Pierre in 1898. It was another four years before they managed to extract and isolate around a tenth of a gram of radium and measure its atomic weight. For this work and the additional discovery of polonium, Marie received the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

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