Event Title

Atomic Panacea: The Radium Fad of the Early 20th Century

Mentor 1

Nigel Rothfels

Start Date

16-4-2021 12:00 AM

Description

Radium- a revolutionary, Nobel Prize-winning element- was discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898. Less than a decade after its successful isolation in 1910- which would earn a second Nobel Peace Prize for Mme. Curie- the element would soon find its way into homes across the world in various appliances and health products. The natural luminescence of the item led to its use in painting watch dials, which the U.S. Military found especially helpful during the end of the First World War. The general public was convinced by opportunistic salespeople that the element was a cure-all for all of life’s ills. Illnesses which even traditional medicines had not cured could benefit from the marvelous power of radium. Beauty products, radon-infused water, and even wearing small pieces of radium in vials or other receptacles became a widespread fad. Items that did not contain radium but wished to capitalize on the wave added the word ‘radium’ to their names. For a short while, it seemed that the public had found a cure-all. Sadly, most uses of radium in the early 1900s instead led to a painful, drawn-out death. Many fell victim to the repeated exposure to this dangerous element, from the dial-painting Radium Girls to the avid fans of products such as ThoRadia irradiated water and even the scientists who had spent years researching the miracle element. Before the United States entered the Second World War, the radium fad had decayed.

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Apr 16th, 12:00 AM

Atomic Panacea: The Radium Fad of the Early 20th Century

Radium- a revolutionary, Nobel Prize-winning element- was discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898. Less than a decade after its successful isolation in 1910- which would earn a second Nobel Peace Prize for Mme. Curie- the element would soon find its way into homes across the world in various appliances and health products. The natural luminescence of the item led to its use in painting watch dials, which the U.S. Military found especially helpful during the end of the First World War. The general public was convinced by opportunistic salespeople that the element was a cure-all for all of life’s ills. Illnesses which even traditional medicines had not cured could benefit from the marvelous power of radium. Beauty products, radon-infused water, and even wearing small pieces of radium in vials or other receptacles became a widespread fad. Items that did not contain radium but wished to capitalize on the wave added the word ‘radium’ to their names. For a short while, it seemed that the public had found a cure-all. Sadly, most uses of radium in the early 1900s instead led to a painful, drawn-out death. Many fell victim to the repeated exposure to this dangerous element, from the dial-painting Radium Girls to the avid fans of products such as ThoRadia irradiated water and even the scientists who had spent years researching the miracle element. Before the United States entered the Second World War, the radium fad had decayed.