Madam Currie's Book Review: Something For Nothing

511 WordsOct 31, 20103 Pages
The title of the book Something Out of Nothing was actually based on a famous quote by Marie Curie, and the book revolved around its idea. The quote said “It was like creating something out of nothing.” Marie Curie’s quote came when she was trying to extract radioactive material from pitchblende, which was the excess of uranium mines. Marie found that it was highly radioactive, and it contained two new elements. However, removing the element was long and tedious. There were no previous instructions, books, or experts to consult. Marie often had to treat the pitchblende with different solutions to try to remove the different substances. She often boiled it and used corrosive agents and methods such as fractional crystallization to make her substance more radioactive. Although Marie Curie estimated that pitchblende was 1% radium, in reality, radium is one millionth of one percent of the ore. An example of the size would be like getting three raisins out of an adult elephant. To do such a feat, Marie had to be persistent and determined. The lab they were in was a shabby shed, with a leaking roof and nothing to protect her from the freezing conditions. Pierre, her husband, worked alongside her, and kept up a job as a professor, which was their only source of income. Their work with radium was also costing them money, instead of bringing some in. When they were offered a new laboratory in Switzerland, as well as a high paying job for Pierre, Marie declined, because she knew it would interrupt their work with radium for a while. Marie and Pierre both got extra jobs to boost their incomes, and they asked Pierre’s father to watch their kids. After four years of trying to extract radium, Marie and Pierre were able to extract one decigram of radium from the pitchblende. Marie was able to find the atomic weight of radium, a necessary step in establishing

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