Chapter

The New Uranium Mining Boom

Part of the series Springer Geology pp 3-13

Marie Curie and the Discovery of Radium

  • Fernando P. CarvalhoAffiliated withDepartment of Radiological Safety and Protection E.N. 10, Nuclear and Technological Institute (ITN)

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Abstract

Marie Curie gave outstanding contributions to science and society that were recognized still in her lifetime. In particular, the discovery of radium completely changed the therapeutic methods for treatment of cancer and other diseases, and allowed the development of radiotherapy and nuclear medicine. Radium was also used in many non-medical applications. Radium applications fostered the growth of uranium mining industry during the first half of 20th century. During the second half of the past century, with developments of artificial radionuclides production and particle physics, radium was gradually replaced by shorter-lived radionuclides and electron and photon beams in cancer therapy. In the 70s and 80s most radium sources in cancer hospitals were replaced while in non-medical applications radium had been substituted already. Notwithstanding, the avenue for medical use of radioactivity and radionuclides opened with Marie Curie discoveries and radium applications still goes on. This avenue is currently pursued in curietherapy and nuclear medicine.