From Alchemy to Chemistry:
Five Hundred Years of Rare and Interesting Books

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rare Book Room Exhibit

CURIE, MARIE (1867 - 1934). Traité de Radioactivité. Paris, 1910.

One of the most important books of science written in the twentieth century, this is Madame Curie's principal writing on her discoveries in radioactivity. After Henri Becquerel's discovery of a type of radiation discharged from a uranium compound that was capable of passing through sheets of matter opaque to ordinary light, Curie began a systematic examination of a large number of chemical elements and their compounds to test whether they possessed the "radioactive" property of uranium. Only one other element, thorium, was found to show this effect to a degree comparable with that of uranium. After testing the various compounds of uranium, Curie discovered that their radioactivity was an atomic property, i.e., the activity was proportional to the amount of uranium present and was independent of its combination with other substances. In trying to isolate this radioactive property from the compounds, Curie isolated the new elements polonium and eventually radium. Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize, her second, in Chemistry the year after this work was published.

Buddenbrooks, Catalog Number 67, 204.

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