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Antoine Henri Becquerel


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  • 1. Antoine Henri becquerel
    By: Marissa Als
  • 2. 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
    Edmond Becquerel
  • 3. 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
  • 4. Contributions to Science
    • Becquerel decided to investigate
    whether there was any connection
    between X-rays and naturally occurring
    • 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.
    • 5. Becquerel concluded "that the phosphorescent substance in question emits radiation which penetrates paper opaque to light."
    • 6. 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.
  • 7. 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
    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.
  • 8. 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.
  • 9.
    • Hewas married to Mlle. Janin, the daughter of a civil engineer.
    • 10. They had a son Jean, born 1878, who was also a physicist: the fourth generation of scientists in the Becquerel family.
    • 11. Antoine Henri Becquerel died
    at Le Croisic on August 25,
  • 12. Interesting Facts
    • Marie Curie was actually the student of Antoine Henri Becquerel. Although Becquerel discovered the phenomenon of radioactivity, it was Marie Curie who gave it its name.
    • 13. Marie and her husband Pierre
    went on to discover the
    elements known as radium and
    polonium. They also shared the
    Nobel Peace Prize with
    Becquerel in 1903
  • 14. Bibliography
    Cameco, Corp. (2009, February 4). Uranium science. Retrieved from
    Fine, B.H. (2003, February 14). Experiencing fluorescence. Retrieved from
    Fromm, J.R. (1997, July). The Story of the atomic bomb. Retrieved from
    Katsma, M. (2009, March 24). Madame curie. Retrieved from
    Petit., P. (Artist). (1832). Becuerel, alexeandre edmond. [Web]. Retrieved from
    Waters, A.M. (2009, December). Radiation therapy, mesothelioma and cancer. Retrieved from