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Radium (Ra): Alkaline Earth Metals

Radium (Ra)

What is Radium?

Radium (Ra), radioactive chemical element, the heaviest of the alkaline-earth metals of Group 2 (IIa) of the periodic table. Radium is a silvery white metal that does not occur free in nature. Radium's uses all stem from its radioactivity. Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

The History

Radium was discovered in 1898 by Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. They managed to extract 1 mg of radium from ten tonnes of the uranium ore pitchblende (uranium oxide, U3O8), a considerable feat, given the chemically methods of separation available to them. They identified that it was a new element because its atomic spectrum revealed new lines. Their samples glowed with a faint blue light in the dark, caused by the intense radioactivity exciting the surrounding air.

The metal itself was isolated by Marie Curie and André Debierne in 1911, by means of the electrolysis of radium chloride. At Debierne’s suggestion, they used a mercury cathode in which the liberated radium dissolved. This was then heated to distil off the mercury leaving the radium behind. Continue reading from Royal Society of Chemistry

Radium Facts

Marie and Pierre Curie's laboratory notebooks are still too radioactive due to their work with radium to be handled today, according to the Jefferson Lab. Radium is a highly radioactive element and can be extremely dangerous. However, it was once used in many everyday products, including wristwatches and toothpaste, and thought to have curative properties until its intense radioactivity was found to cause adverse health effects. Radium is primarily extracted as a byproduct in uranium mining, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. Most of the radium comes from uranium mines in Democratic Republic of Congo and Canada.Radium is an unstable element and undergoes several stages of radioactive decay reaching its end product of lead. Continue reading from LiveScience

Chart of Elemental Properties for Radium

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