August 25, 1908 - Death of Antoine Henri Becquerel, Nobel Prize winner, together with the Curies couple, for the discovery of spontaneous radioactivity

Becquerel belongs to a family of four generations of scientists.

In 1877, he graduated as an engineer and, in 1888, he received a doctorate in Sciences. He dedicated himself to research. His early work focused on optics, but later he studied electromagnetic polarization, the infrared spectrum of metal vapors, and the absorption of light by crystals.

After the discovery at the end of 1895 of X-rays by Wilhelm Röntgen, Becquerel observed that these, when impacted with a beam of cathode rays in a glass tube in which an vacuum has been made, become fluorescent. Following this observation, he set out to find out if there was a fundamental relationship between X-rays and visible radiation, in such a way that all materials capable of emitting light, stimulated by any means, also emit X-rays.

On February 24, 1896, he reported the results of these experiments to the French Academy of Sciences, noting in his report the particular activity shown by the crystals made of uranium salts. This was a new property of matter that was later called natural radioactivity.

In 1900, he found that beta radiation is made up of electrons and, a year later, that radium could be used to destroy tumors (the origin of radiotherapy).

In 1903, "In recognition of his extraordinary services for the discovery of spontaneous radioactivity" he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with the Curies. Curiously, Becquerel received half of the prize, and the Curies couple the other half in equal parts.

If you want to know more about this scientist, click on the following link: Antoine Henri Becquerel

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