Marie Curie’s Rise to Prominence: Fresh From Her Discovery of Radium, She Prepares Scientific Articles on the Quality of Radioactive Rays

She requires more time to finalize the research performed in 1899: “The subjects addressed in our last notes at the Academy are not yet far enough advanced to be exhibited properly”

The second earliest letter related to radiation we can find reaching the market in at least the past 40 years

In 1891, Marie Curie left Poland for Paris, where she studied Physics and Mathematical Sciences at the Sorbonne and met her husband, Pierre. She arrived in France during momentous times.  Wilhelm Conrad...

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Marie Curie’s Rise to Prominence: Fresh From Her Discovery of Radium, She Prepares Scientific Articles on the Quality of Radioactive Rays

She requires more time to finalize the research performed in 1899: “The subjects addressed in our last notes at the Academy are not yet far enough advanced to be exhibited properly”

The second earliest letter related to radiation we can find reaching the market in at least the past 40 years

In 1891, Marie Curie left Poland for Paris, where she studied Physics and Mathematical Sciences at the Sorbonne and met her husband, Pierre. She arrived in France during momentous times.  Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen had discovered x-rays in 1895, and in 1896 Antoine Henri Becquerel discovered that the element uranium gives off similar invisible radiations. Curie began studying uranium emissions and realized that unknown elements, even more radioactive than uranium, must be present. She was the first to use the term “radioactive,” coining the phrase.  In 1898 the Curies announced their discovery of two new elements: radium and polonium (the latter named by Marie in honor of her homeland, Poland).  The discovery of Radium itself took place late December 1898. The Curies’ research into radium continued into 1899, while at the same time, their discovery brought with it within the scientific community a desire to learn more,  and with the Curies the determination to consider research and write articles.  This resulted in Mrs. Curie’s rise to prominence.

In 1899 the Curies work on radioactivity had entered a brand new stage.  1897 and 1898 were years of discovery, but there was much yet to discover.  Moreover, they had to explain their work and spread the circle of people researching radioactivity. In his first paper of the century, in January 1900, Pierre Curie announced his discovery that only the more penetrating rays of radium were deflected by a magnetic current, whereas the less penetrating rays seemed not to be affected by the current.  This set the table for the eventual division of rays into alpha, beta, and gamma.

On January 8, Marie submitted a paper to the Academy elaborating on the second category of rays.

Autograph letter signed, on her physics and chemistry letterhead, Paris, December 5, 1899.  “Sir, if you wish, I will be able to give you an article on Radium, but not before 3 or 4 months.  Mr. Bouty has already requested, for his Journal de Physique, an article that I must do before yours.  Moreover, I do not expect to be able to do it immediately, because the subjects addressed in our last notes at the Academy are not yet far enough advanced to be exhibited properly.”  She writes her home address at the bottom.

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