Henri Becquerel

Scientific discoveries are designed to change the world for the better. One of these discoveries was the discovery of the radioactivity of certain chemical elements, which served as the basis for the creation of both super-powerful weapons and powerful sources of energy. So who was the first to open these deadly rays? It was Antoine Henri Becquerel.

Antoine Henri Becquerel was born on December 15, 1852 in Paris in a family of hereditary scientists

Antoine Henri Becquerel was born on December 15, 1852 in Paris in a family of hereditary scientists. From a young age, Henri grew up in an atmosphere of scientific search, which could not but affect the formation of his intellect.

When the boy grew up, he was identified in the Lyceum of Louis Legrand. At the end of the Lyceum, in 1872, Henry entered the Polytechnic School, where he studied Etienne Malius, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, Simeon Denis Poisson, Jean Fresnel and many others. It was at the Polytechnic School that Henri Becquerel began independent scientific research.

In the early period of his activity, the scientist focused on magneto-optics. In 1878-1880, a young scientist showed that gases also have optical activity, and nickel-coated iron exhibits magnetic properties only after heating to red heat. Together with his father Henri conducted numerous experiments to measure the temperature of magma.

May 27, 1889, the scientist was elected to the Academy of Sciences, and he holds the position of indispensable secretary of the physical department. In 1895, Becquerel became a professor at the Polytechnic School.

The discovery of X-rays a year later stirred the scientists who believed that in nature there is nothing more unknown to man. Among them was Henri Becquerel. Close to his father's research on luminescence, he drew attention to the fact that the cathode rays in the X-ray experiments caused both luminescence of the glass and invisible X-rays at the same time. This led him to the idea that any luminescence is accompanied simultaneously by the emission of x-rays.

For a few days, Becquerel pondered the experiment he had planned, then he chose the double sulfate salt of uranium and potassium, potassium uranyl sulfate K2(SO4)2*2H2O, pressed into a small "cake", put salt on a photographic plate hidden from the light in black paper, and put out a plate with salt in the sun. Under the influence of sunlight, double salt began to glow brightly, but this luminescence could not get to the protected photographic plate. Henri Becquerel hardly waited for the moment when the photographic plate could be obtained from the developer. The image of the "flat cake" clearly showed on the plate. Is all true, and the salt in response to irradiation with sunlight emits not only rays of light, but also X-rays?

Henri Becquerel checked himself again and again. February 26, 1896, cloudy days have come, and Becquerel with regret hides the photographic plate prepared for experiment with salt in the table. Between the "cake" of salt and a photographic plate this time, he put a small copper cross to check whether x-rays pass through it.

On March 1, 1896, Henri Becquerel, without waiting for the sun to appear in the sky, took out the same photographic plate on which the cross and salt lay for a few days, and just in case showed it. Imagine his surprise when he saw on the developed photographic plate a clear image and a cross and cakes with salt! So, the sun and fluorescence here is not to blame? As a first-class researcher, Henri Becquerel did not hesitate to seriously revise his theory and began to investigate the effect of uranium salts on a plate in the dark. So it was discovered, and this Becquerel proved by successive experiments that the uranium and its compound continuously emit rays acting on the photographic plate. They also discharged the electroscope, that is, ionized the air.

The world's first report on the existence of radioactivity was made by Henri Becquerel at a meeting of the Paris Academy of Sciences on February 24, 1896. This discovery caused a sensation. Especially struck by the ability of uranium to radiate spontaneously, without any external influence.

Studying the properties of new rays, Henri Becquerel tried to explain their nature. However, he for a long time adhered to the erroneous point of view, according to which radioactivity may be a form of prolonged phosphorescence. Soon other scientists began to study the new phenomenon, and, first of all, the couple Pierre and Maria Curie. Together with them in 1903, Henri Becquerel received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

June 29, 1908, the next meeting of the Academy of Sciences, where the scientist by an absolute majority of votes elected an indispensable secretary of the physical department, and August 25, 1908 at the age of 55 Henri Becquerel suddenly died. The cause of Becquerel's death is now difficult to establish, but the radiation trace is certainly present. The excitement in the study of radioactivity did not have the best effect on the health of Maria Sklodowska-Curie and Rutherford. Hungarian chemist Gyorgy Hevesy was the first to sound the alarm. It was he who noticed that radiation has a detrimental effect on living cells.