December 15, 1852 – Birth of Antoine Henri Becquerel, Nobel Prize winner, together with the Curie 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 science. He devoted himself to research. His first works focused on optics, but later he approached the study of electromagnetic polarization, the infrared spectrum of metallic vapors and the absorption of light by crystals.

After the discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm Röntgen at the end of 1895, Becquerel observed that, when a cathode ray beam hits a vacuumed glass tube, they become fluorescent. As a result of 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 up 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 Curie couple. Curiously, Becquerel received half of the prize, and the Curie 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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