CREATORGoldschmidt, Bertrand
TITLEUranium's Scientific History 1789 – 1939

This web page chronicles the history of the discovery of radium and uranium, tracking the ebb and flow of each element’s popularity in scientific and economic realms. The page consists of the remarks made by French chemist Bertrand Goldschmidt on the occasion of the bicentenary of the discovery of uranium. Goldschmidt opens with German chemist Martin Klaproth’s 1789 discovery of uranium in pitchblende, a shiny black material that appeared during silver mining operations in the town of Joachimsthal. Addressing the early uses of uranium in coloring processes, Goldschmidt emphasizes uranium’s early commercial utility. Goldschmidt, who was the last personal assistant to Marie Curie in 1933, then turns to Curie’s discovery of radium and the subsequent commercial interest generated by that discovery. He then describes the competitive international market for radium during the early twentieth century. Goldschmidt concludes by reflecting on the irony that while radium, not uranium, initially generated the most interest, now uranium has primacy.

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