Discovery of radon

In 1898, Marie y Pierre Curie discovered two new chemical elements: radium and polonium. Some of the emanations came from radium (isotope Ra-226) and two scientists began to study them: Ernest Rutherford and Friedrich Ernst Dorn.

In 1900, Dorn discovered the fifth known radioactive chemical element after uranium, thorium, radium, and polonium and named it Radium emanation (Ra Em). It was named because, in some experiments, radium emanated from this radioactive gas.

In 1910, Sir William Ramsay and Robert Whytlaw-Gray isolated this gas and determined its density, stating that it was the heaviest gas known. They later wrote "L'expression de l'émanation du radium est fort incommode" ("The presence of radium emanation is very uncomfortable") and suggested the new name niton (Nt) (from the Latin word "nitens" meaning "bright") emphasize the property of radioluminescence exhibited by the gas.

However, in later years, other names were proposed: exradium, radon, radeon, and finally, in 1923, the International Committee on the Chemical Elements and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) approved the official name, radon (Rn).

In the 1960s, the element was still referred to simply as an emanation in some texts, and in 1962, the first radon compound, radon fluoride, was synthesized.

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