Sunday, April 30, 2017
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History and People

Vikings Touched Poland and North America

The Age of the Vikings lasted from about 800 to 1100 A.D. During this time their influence extended from their origins in Scandinavia throughout most of Europe, Byzantium in Asia Minor, and westward to North America.

There is proof of a Viking settlement on the island of Labrador off the Canadian coast, and the existence of Vinland, a Norse settlement farther south, is believed to have been in present day Nova Scotia, Rhode Island or Cape Cod. The discovery of a runestone in Minnesota with Nordic characters engraved on it, along with other purported Viking relics, seems to point to a Viking foray into interior North America.

The Viking impact on Europe was much more profound.

Read more: Vikings Touched Poland and North America


Working through Pitchblende to Separate Radium & Polonium

In the previous article we talked about the scientific breakthrough - discovery of polonium and radium. Marie and Pierre had still a long way to go to prove that they really discovered new elements. The amount of radium and polonium which they were able to extract were minute, they needed much more in order to establish their physical and chemical properties.

The ore from which they extracted polonium and radium came from the pitchblende deposits used to extract uranium salts for glass manufacture in St Joachimsthal mine in Bohemia. The price of pitchblende was high but the value of the residue left after extracting uranium salt was low since the ore was considered useless.  In that time St Joachimsthal was a part of Austrian empire. There were many  problems to deal with:  to arrange a permission to transfer massive amounts of ore from Austria to France, to pay for the ore and to for its transportation. Besides, Marie and Pierre did not even have a good quality laboratory at the Sorbonne University, only a small shack with no floor which was used for animal dissection in the past.

Marie and Pierre in the laboratory

Read more: Working through Pitchblende to Separate Radium & Polonium


Hundredth Anniversary of Marie Curie’s Chemistry Nobel Award

Marie CurieAt the end of summer 2011 when Marie Curie was participating the Solvay Conference in Brussels, she received a telegram from Nobel  Committee in Sweden.  She was awarded the second Nobel  Prize, this time in chemistry. She was recognized for producing a sufficient amount of two new elements, polonium and radium, for establishment their atomic weight and other unusual and radioactive properties.

Marie was not only the first Pole and the first woman to receive a Nobel award (the first one in 1903). She was also the first person who received two Nobel awards in two different areas of science.

Read more: Hundredth Anniversary of Marie Curie’s Chemistry Nobel Award


John Adams and Poland's Affairs


John Adams, the first vice president of the United States, second president and illustrious Founding Father, was one of the great political thinkers in history.

John AdamsAfter American independence was achieved, and the federal Articles of Confederation showed their weaknesses, Adams became a supporter of a new federal charter, or constitution, for the United States. In 1787 he wrote and had published a collection of essays in support of revamping the federal government. Entitled A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States of America, the book argued in support of a strong chief executive, a sovereign and superior bicameral legislature, and a system of checks and balances to control any possible dangerous concentration of power.

Adams’ book brought up examples of historical attempts at democracies and republics, including those of Greece, Rome, England and Poland. He devoted two chapters to Poland, using its example as a nation threatened by its neighbors with little freedom for the common man due to its weak central government. He showed himself to be well educated as to the current situation in that country and in its history.

Read more: John Adams and Poland's Affairs


Discovery of Polonium and Radium

Marie was already young wife and mother, now it was a time to find a subject for doctorial thesis. She would become the first woman in Europe with PhD in Physics! Read the previous part: Maria and Pierre Curie: First Meeting, Love and Marriage .

electrometer-CuriesThe discovery of strange X-ray radiation by Rentgen, the radiation that showed bare bone in human hand became the most novel scientific curiosity. Henri Bequerel found that salts of uranium were also a source of this strange radiation. They made a mark on photographic paper without any access to the external light. So Marie naturally decided to follow up and investigate it. Pierre and Jacques Curie invented the electrometer (see the photo on the right) based on piezoelectric quartz that could detect very small amount of electricity. It was known that this strange radiation caused changes in the electric field, so Curies electrometer was a very suitable device to experiment with these strange and penetrating rays.

Read more: Discovery of Polonium and Radium


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This is Brande from Uganda with a photo of Ela, my daughter.

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