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Penetrating the Mystery

Achunk of pitchblende may contain up to 30 different chemical elements. The Curies were like detectives searching for a suspected criminal in a crowded street. They had no idea what the new element would be like, except that it was radioactive. After long labor they succeeded in finding not one but two new elements! In July 1898 they published a paper revealing their first discovery. They honored Marie’s native land by naming the element “polonium.” That December they announced the second new element, which they named “radium” from the Latin word for ray.

A French newspaper drawing of the Curies Other scientists did not trust the announcement, for the Curies did not have enough polonium and radium to see and weigh. The elements’ existence was known from nothing but their radioactivity. The Curies would have to separate their elements from the other substances they were mixed with. The storeroom at Pierre’s school was too small for such work, and the Curies continued their work in an abandoned shed nearby.

Read what Marie wrote here.quotes image

The shed where radium was isolated
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