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I’m Curious, Madame Curie. What’s That Glowing in Your Lab Coat?*

Scientific Discipline — Nuclear Physics

Marie Curie isolated, purified and identified the elements radium and polonium in a chemical and physical tour de force. Radioactivity is all around us. Is this a good thing or something that should strike terror in our hearts? The participants in this program will learn about both the good and the bad of ionizing radiation. They’ll actually see the flashes of light produced by atomic disintegrations of a sample of uranium ore using a spinthariscope. They’ll construct an electroscope with which they can detect ionizing radiation. They’ll use a Geiger counter to find a piece of hidden uranium ore. They’ll see the actual paths of alpha and beta particles in a cloud chamber among other things. You will be amazed to learn of the radioactive materials found in every home. All demonstrations are performed using safe, low levels of radiation.

* Some of the demonstrations in this program require a room that can be completely darkened. Although a few radioactive materials are used, the levels of radiation impose no danger.