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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 12 Issue 2 (2007) pp 94-101

The Troubled Story of Polonium: An Early Controversy in Radiochemistry

Jean-Pierre Adloff and George B. Kauffman*

Honorary Professor, Université Louis Pasteur, 63 Rue Saint Urbain, Strasbourg, France F-67100, jp.adloff@noos.fr, *Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, georgek@csufresno.edu

Published online: 1 April 2007

Abstract. A first conflict in the young science of radiochemistry arose more than a century ago when the discovery of polonium by Pierre (1859–1906) and Marie Curie (1867–1934) was questioned. This article recounts the doubts about the existence of this new radioelement and the ensuing arguments. The role of polonium in nuclear sciences and its recent appearance in the media in a mysterious poisoning case are briefly evoked.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; nuclear

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: georgek@csufresno.edu)

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Issue date: April 1, 2007

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