By Edward M. Walsh
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Extra info for Energy conversion: electromechanical, direct, nuclear
They began breaking down the pitchblende to extract the tiny fragment containing the activity, hoping thereby to solve the puzzle. They did this by extracting from the pitchblende sulphur of bismuth, a substance which, according to their measurements, was far more active than uranium. Since pure sulphur of bismuth was itself inactive, this meant that the new active ingredient had to be present in the bismuth. It was laborious, painstaking but exciting work. As soon as they had extracted a tiny amount of active material, Marie bore it off to Eugene Demarcay, a specialist in spectrography - the science of identifying elements by the rainbow-coloured 'spectra' they display when energized by an electric current.
They decided not to patent their process for extracting radium, believing it to be against the spirit of science to seek commercial advantage. Knowledge should be available to all. BEFORE THE FALL-OUT 46 * * * Marie Curie's discovery of radium was an emphatic push on a door just starting to open on a new sub-atomic world whose implications challenged long-established beliefs. To some they were unthinkable. Unravelling the mysteries would require intuitive skills, a daring but disciplined imagination, physical energy and a first-rate scientific mind.
Rutherford pinned his hopes on winning an 1851 Exhibition Scholarship. The Great Exhibition, an international celebration of industry, science and commerce instigated by Prince Albert and held in London in 1851, had attracted over six million visitors and made a fat profit, some of which had been channelled into scholarships to pluck gifted science graduates from across the Empire and bring them to Britain. Rutherford was digging in the family garden when the postman brought the letter announcing he had been awarded a scholarship for his work on magnetism and electricity.