Brief (and incomplete) History of Nuclear Energy

Exploring the nature of the atom

• Uranium was discovered in 1789 by Martin Klaproth, a German chemist, and named after the planet Uranus.

• Ionising radiation was discovered by Wilhelm Rontgen in 1895, by passing an electric current through an evacuated glass tube and producing continuous X-rays.

• In 1896 Henri Becquerel found that pitchblende (an ore containing radium and uranium) caused a photographic plate to darken. He went on to demonstrate that this was due to beta radiation (electrons) and alpha particles (helium nuclei) being emitted.

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