April 20, Glow Day (Marie and Pierre Curie)

April 20, 2013

Radium watch hands; Nobel Foundatin image

Caption from the Nobel.org site: “Radium hands from 1940-1950’s watches. (Photo licensed under Creative Commons, author: Mauswiesel, November 2011)”  The glowing watches to which these hands were attached sometimes caused problems; people who painted the radium on to the hands and the dial suffered a high degree of radiation-related diseases.  Modern watches that glow typically do not use radium.

On April 20, 1902, Marie and Pierre Curie succeeded in isolating a chunk of the element radium, one of the earliest radioactive elements studied.

For this work they shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, with Henri Becquerel.

Pierre died in 1906; Marie won a second Nobel, in Chemistry, in 1911.  Pierre was run over by a horse-drawn carriage.  Marie died in 1934 of aplastic anemia, a disease probably caused by her having received so much radiation over the course of her career.


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