"Rays Emitted by Compounds of Uranium and of Thorium" Curie, Marie Sklodowska (1898)

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"Rays Emitted by Compounds of Uranium and of Thorium"
Marie Sklodowska Curie (1898)

URL: http://webserver.lemoyne.edu/faculty/giunta/curie98.html

SITE SUMMARY: This Paper provides data on Marie Curie's examination of substances to determine if they could make air a conductor of electricity. The Paper is based on research Curie conducted at the Municipal School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry, and was published in Comptes Rendus, no. 126. This translation has been provided online by Carmen Giunta of Lemoyne College, Syracuse, New York, as part of the Selected Classic Papers in Chemistry Web site. (Its url is in this book's Appendix B.) This paper was published just before the paper she wrote with her husband, Pierre (see this book's previous chapter on that Paper), which provided more information on their research involving the then newly discovered substance Radium.


  1. What did Curie study involving uranium rays and air?
  2. When Curie examined substances other than uranium to determine if they would make air a conductor of electricity, which types of substances did she study? Which three things did she use, and how?
  3. What did she discover with relation to uranium compounds she studied? What did she find remarkable about uranium and thorium?
  4. What is pitchblende? What did she learn about it and how is that connected to uranium? Why is one fact "most remarkable"?
  5. What increases with the thickness of sample layers of elements? To what extent does it involve compounds of uranium and of thorium oxide? Because of the way the thorium oxide reacts, what seems to be true regarding its relation to the rays it emits? What curious thing happens when rays from thorium oxide are emitted in a thick layer and in a thin layer?
  6. What happens to rays emitted by uranium and thorium under action of Roentgen rays (x-rays)? To interpret the spontaneous radiation of uranium and thorium, what, did Curie say, one can imagine?
  7. When describing her research, Curie wrote about absorption, transparence, photographic images of substances or their properties, and something that makes air a conductor of electricity. What did Curie observe that involved absorption? How, according to Curie, can one study transparence in various substances, and what always happens, yet what do the rays do anyway? What did she see in the photographs she took?
  8. Keep Question/Activity no. 7 above in mind. Study the Web site on What Is Electricity? Identify which other things make air a conductor of electricity in the world around you, then give details about one. (The url of the Web site referred to is cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.)
  9. Visit the Radioactivity—Science Radio Report—American Institute of Physics Web site area, then the Radio Reports area of the AIP Web site. (Both urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) Describe what is featured at the Radioactivity—Science Radio Report Web site area, noting Marie Curie, and radioactivity today.
  10. Keep Question/Activity no. 9 above in mind. With help from the Radio Report Web site area, or another Web site featuring science and history data as noted anywhere in this book, imagine you are a radio news reporter or a scientist being interviewed by one. Think of "then" and "now" interview questions to ask or to be asked on any scientific discovery of today and its connection to a related scientific discovery one hundred, fifty, twenty-five, fifteen, ten, or five years ago. If a recent time is chosen, note how change occurs more rapidly (e.g., years ago one hundred or fifty years went by before changes, but less time goes by for changes in recent times).


Science in Poland: Maria Sklodowska-Curie


This site includes a biography, plus a list of "firsts" that Curie accomplished, a link to an exhibit: Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity, a definition of a "Curie unit," and what is considered as one of Curie's outstanding accomplishments. There are also quotations by Curie, with links to radium and polonium data at the WebElements Web site, and links to more sites about Curie. The quotations are undocumented.

Marie Curie—Chemist


The 4,000 Years of Women in Science Web site features a brief biography, plus Curie quotations without sources specified.

Marie Curie—A Nobel Prize Pioneer


Note the introductory biography, then the sections From the Scientific Dream, and To the Humanitarian Dream, all including quotations by Curie and her husband, Pierre.

Nobel Prize Lecture (1911) by Marie S. Curie


Curie gave this lecture on the occasion of her being the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize, for her discovery of radium, and for her being a second time Nobel prize recipient. In it she describes her experiments and discoveries, and explains the nature of the spectrum in the mineral radium.

Curie Articles in Archives and Timeline Archives at Science News Online

http://www.sciencenews.org (click Archives link)

Click Search Archives, then use the words Curie or Radium in the Archives search area. An article that this search leads to is "A Curie-ous Tale" (July 22, 2000) (of an American Institute of Physics exhibit). Also on the Archives page click the link to the Timeline, then scroll to November 1996, and find as part of this Seventy Years Ago Timeline Area "Radium Gift Useful to Marie Curie" (November 6, 1926).

American Institute of Physics


Click the Center for History of Physics link and find a Marie Curie exhibit, plus selected Papers of Great American Physicists. See also the Media link that leads to Physics News Update, FYI, Press Releases, Inside Science TV News, and Science Radio Reports. Note, in addition, link to Education and Student Services.

Radioactivity—Science Radio Report—American Institute of Physics


Click a link to listen to a radio announcement of, or a link to read, a transcript on the one hundredth anniversary of the discovery of radioactivity (February 1996), for information on how this discovery has affected today's science.

"Radium and Radioactivity" by Marie S. Curie


This article was published in Century Magazine, January 1904. It features information on what the discovery of the phenomenon of radioactivity means.

What Is Electricity?


Aspects of electricity are introduced here by an educational TV program team that is headed by Brian Hackney who is a physicist, electrical engineer, and meteorologist.

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"Rays Emitted by Compounds of Uranium and of Thorium" Curie, Marie Sklodowska (1898)

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"Rays Emitted by Compounds of Uranium and of Thorium" Curie, Marie Sklodowska (1898)