February 22, 2017

Homework Help: Science

Posted by Sam on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 7:30pm.

How does Marie Curie help us understand the universe in which we live? Would this be correct??

With numerous experiments Marie confirmed Becquerel's observations that the electrical effects of uranium rays are constant, regardless of whether the uranium was solid or pulverized, pure or in a compound, wet or dry, or whether exposed to light or heat. Likewise, her study of the rays emitted by different uranium compounds validated Becquerel's conclusion that the minerals with a higher proportion of uranium emitted the most intense rays. She went beyond Becquerel's work, however, in forming a crucial hypothesis: the emission of rays by uranium compounds could be an atomic property of the element uranium--something built into the very structure of its atoms.

Marie's simple hypothesis would prove revolutionary. It would ultimately contribute to a fundamental shift in scientific understanding. At the time scientists regarded the atom as the most elementary particle. A hint that this ancient idea was false came from the discovery of the electron by other scientists around this same time. But nobody grasped the complex inner structure or the immense energy stored in atoms. Marie and Pierre Curie themselves were not convinced that radioactive energy came from within atoms--maybe, for example, the earth was bathed in cosmic rays, whose energy certain atoms somehow caught and radiated? Marie's real achievement was to cut through the complicated and obscure observations with a crystal-clear analysis of the set of conclusions that, however unexpected, were logically possible.

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