Early Life Antoine Henri Becquerel was born in Paris on December 15, 1852. He was a member of a distinguished family of scholars and scientists. His father, Alexander Edmond Becquerel, and his grandfather, Antoine César. Becquerel was a third generation scientist. Written accounts suggest that there was a close relationship between father and son in the passing on of the scientific tradition. Edmond Becquerel
Educational Background Becquerel entered the Polytechnic in 1872, then the government department of Ponts-et-Chaussées in 1874, becoming an engineer in 1877 and being promoted to Chief Engineer in 1894. In 1888 he acquired his doctorate with his dissertation on the absorption of light by crystals. From 1878 he had held an appointment as an Assistant at the Museum of Natural History, taking over from his father in the Chair of Applied Physics at the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers. Then in 1892 he was appointed Professor of Applied Physics in the Department of Natural History at the Paris Museum. He then later became a Professor at the Polytechnic in 1895
whether there was any connection between X-rays and naturally occurring phosphorescence.
He had inherited from his father a
supply of uranium salts, which phosphoresce on exposure to light. When the salts were placed near to a photographic plate covered with opaque paper, the plate was discovered to be fogged.
The phenomenon was found to be common to all the uranium salts studied and was concluded to be a property of the uranium atom.
Becquerel concluded "that the phosphorescent substance in question emits radiation which penetrates paper opaque to light."
Initially he believed that the sun's energy was being absorbed by the uranium which then emitted X rays.
Further investigation, on the 26th and 27th of February, was delayed because the skies over Paris were overcast and the uranium-covered plates Becquerel intended to expose to the sun were returned to a drawer. On the first of March, he developed the photographic plates expecting only faint images to appear. To his surprise, the images were clear and strong. This meant that the uranium emitted radiation without an external source of energy such as the sun. Later, Becquerel demonstrated that the radiation emitted by uranium shared certain characteristics with X rays but, unlike X rays, could be deflected by a magnetic field and therefore must consist of charged particles.
Impact on Our Lives Radiation is used in cancer treatment and for scans and x rays. A unit has been named after him, which helps us when doing calculations. One Becquerel (Bq) is one disintegration per second of a radioactive substance. Marie also has a unit named after her: One Curie is the activity of a substance which undergoes 3.7x1010 disintegrations per second.
Other Facts About Becquerel Becquerel published his findings in many papers, principally in the Annales de Physique et de Chimie and the Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences. He was elected a member of the Academie des Sciences de France in 1889 and succeeded Berthelot as Life Secretary. He was also a member of the Accademia dei Lincei and of the Royal Academy of Berlin, amongst others; and He was made an Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1900. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1903 for his discovery of radiation.
went on to discover the elements known as radium and polonium. They also shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Becquerel in 1903
Bibliography Cameco, Corp. (2009, February 4). Uranium science. Retrieved from http://www.cameco.com/common/images/content/u101/r_particles Fine, B.H. (2003, February 14). Experiencing fluorescence. Retrieved from http://universe-review.ca/I13-01-group204paint.jpg Fromm, J.R. (1997, July). The Story of the atomic bomb. Retrieved from http://www.3rd1000.com/nuclear/becquerel.jpg Katsma, M. (2009, March 24). Madame curie. Retrieved from http://blog.marjoleinkatsma.com/user/files/people/wedding_c Petit., P. (Artist). (1832). Becuerel, alexeandre edmond. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollections/hst/scientific-identity/fullsize/SIL14-B2-07a.jpg Waters, A.M. (2009, December). Radiation therapy, mesothelioma and cancer. Retrieved from http://www.mesotheliomalungs.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/lp2_17.gif