Maria Skłodowska-Curie i Pierre Curie w epokowym roku 1898
Maria Skłodowska-Curie and Piotr Curie an epoch-makingin year 1898
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For many reasons the year 1898 was unusual for Maria Skłodowska-Curie and her husband. After defining the subject of the doctoral thesis and choosing Henri Becqerel as thesis supervisor, Maria started intensive experimental work. In the allotted room called storeroom, in conditions that were far too inadequate, they managed to put up a unique measuring equipment composed of instruments whose originator was Pierre Curie. In the ionization chamber and in the piezoelectric quartz charges formed, whose mutual neutralization was shown by the quadrant electrometer. Ionization current, which was measured quantitatively, was proportional to the radiation of the sample. Studying many elements, their compounds and minerals enabled Maria to state that uranium is not the only element endowed with the power of radiation; the second one turned out to be thorium. Anomaly detected in the radiation of uranium minerals made it possible for Maria to draw an extremely important conclusion: radioactive uranium and thorium are not the only elements endowed with such an attribute. Pitchblende, which was studied by the Curie couple, had to contain also other radioactive substances. Gustave Bémont also participated in the chemical analysis of the uranium ore and it is worth reminding that he was involved in the discovery of polonium and uranium. The phenomenon of radioactivity couldn’t have been explained if it was not for the sources of strong radioactivity. Those sources undoubtedly could have been the discovered elements but their scanty content in the uranium ore made their isolation very difficult and laborious. Access to industrial remains after procession of pitchblende from Jachymov (Sankt Joachimstahl), obtained owing to the mediation of Eduard Suess, provided the source of this raw material. From it, in a shack also called le hangar , the Curie couple isolated the first samples of the radium salt. This element, later extracted by discoverers on a grand scale and handed over in a various forms to researchers and institutions, became a foundation of physics and chemistry of radioactive elements.
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