The way from Becquerel's radiation to the atomic bomb
The discovery of the phenomenon of radioactivity made by French scientists Henri Becquerel, Marie
Curie and her husband Pierre Curie is one of the greatest feats in the history of science. As early as 1896,
Becquerel discovered that uranium compounds emit deeply penetrating radiation, which is an internal
property of uranium. In 1898, Marie and Pierre Curie, after carrying out lengthy and hard research, came
to the conclusion that uranium ore contains two more elements that possess similar radiation, but much
stronger than uranium. These elements were called polonium (in honor of Poland, the birthplace of M.
Curie) and radium. At the suggestion of M. Curie, the very phenomenon of radiation was called
radioactivity. D.I. Mendeleyev considered the discovery of radioactivity «... one of the most brilliant and
most mysterious discoveries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries». Less than fifty years have passed
since the time of atomic bombings over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that took tens of
thousands of lives (August 1945), but all these years were full of the greatest discoveries in the field of
atomic and nuclear physics. Despite the available literature on this issue, we are still attempting to recall
very often the greatest events of the time.