Radium Facts

Radium Facts
Radium (Ra) has an atomic number of eighty-eight, and eighty-eight protons in the nucleus of an atom. It is an intensely white metal that quickly tarnishes to black in the presence of air.
Interesting Radium Facts:
Radium was discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie in 1898.
They extracted the element from a sample of the mineral uraninite.
Radium was discovered after the radioactive uranium was isolated, leaving behind another material that was still radioactive.
Twelve years after its discovery, Marie Curie and Andre-Louis Debierne isolated the pure metal form of radium.
Radium was the first radioactive element to be made synthetically.
The standard unit used to measure the radioactivity of a substance is called a becquerel, another unit, the curie, is derived from the comparative radioactivity of a radium isotope, Ra-226.
Radium is not a primordial element, but is a trace element that occurs from the decay of other heavier elements.
There are no large deposits of radium due to the extremely short half-life of the element and all its isotopes.
As an example, one ton of the uranium-containing mineral pitchblende is estimated to contain 1/7th of a gram of radium.
At its concentration, however, an equivalent amount of radium would be three million times more radioactive than uranium.
Radium has twenty-five known isotopes, all of which are unstable, while there have been thirty-four synthesized isotopes.
Four of those isotopes occur in nature as the product of radioactive decay of other elements.
The most common isotope of radium is Ra-226.
It is also the most stable, with a half-life of 1,601 years.
Due to its scarcity, radium had very few commercial applications, and even those are slowly being replaced by substances that are more abundant and safer to work with.
The human body treats radium exposure as it does calcium, meaning it gets deposited in the bones, teeth, and marrow.
A landmark case in the 1920s involved employee exposure to radium in a factory that produced glowing hands and markers on watch and clock faces.
The case resulted in a more widespread understanding of the effects of radioactivity.

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