Radium Days [Radio Scotland]

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20130603

20130603

2013060320140105 (RS)

100 years ago, Glasgow was thrilled by the prestige of her nuclear scientists - one of the hottest tickets in town (and we mean hot!) was to Professor Frederick Soddy's public lectures on radioactivity where he conducted experiments with radium bromide glowing green in its capsule, which would have had us running for shelter. Radium was trendy then - more precious by far than gold and much more mysterious and fascinating. Discovered by a woman - Polish chemist Marie Curie, it was worked on by women too: some of Scotland first female research scientists like Ruth Pirret were on Soddy's team. The carcinogenic danger of radioactive substances was unknown at this time, health and safety were so non-existent, you could take your radium to dinner parties and show off the glow! But it was much much more than a party trick...In 1913 the science of radioactivity took a major leap. Soddy came up with the concept of the isotope - Nobel prize winning research which would revolutionise our understanding of the nuclear world. He was a remarkable scientist with a social conscience who foresaw nuclear power and dreaded nuclear weapons even before the First World War.Louise Welsh investigates the early days of Scottish research into radioactivity. Acknowledgements - with thanks to Glasgow and Aberdeen University Special Collections and to Karl Ellison for permission to use his recording of 'The Radium Dance'.1/1.