, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 437–462 | Cite as

The U.S. Radium Industry: Industrial In-house Research and the Commercialization of Science

  • Maria RentetziEmail author


A fierce debate ensued after the announcement in 1913 in the U.S.A. that all rights and ownership of radium-bearing ores found on public land would be reserved by the government. At stake was the State monopolization of radium that pitted powerful industrialists with radium claims, mainly in the Colorado area, against the Bureau of Mines and prestigious physicians who wished to reserve radium for medical uses. This article describes the strategies of one of the biggest U.S. radium industries that dominated the radium market, created huge customer bases, and legitimized their role within the scientific community. In contrast to the European “radium situation,” radium extraction, production, and marketing in the United States was controlled by the industry; and industrial in-house research was clearly separate from that done in academic circles. The production of knowledge was ready-made in the factory and was entangled with commercial orders and advertising patterns.


Radium industry Commercialization of science Standard Chemical Company Industrial in-house research Radioactivity 



I would like to thank Hans-Jörg Rheinberger for his hospitality at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. To Paul Frame of Oak Ridge Universities in Tennessee I owe a debt for long-distance help in accessing important archival material. My thanks also go to Ursula Klein for her insightful comments on several versions of the paper and her overall support. It is my pleasure to thank the two anonymous referees of Minerva and the editors for helping me to clarify my arguments. Finally I would like to acknowledge the valuable editorial help of Spiros Petrounakos.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, School of Applied Mathematics and Physical SciencesNational Technical University of AthensAthensGreece

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