Written by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn Saturday, 17 August 2013 16:48
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