AQA GCSE Physics

Revision Notes

4.2.12 Studies into the Effects of Radiation

Studies into the Effects of Radiation

The Discovery of Radiation

  • In 1898, physicist Marie Curie discovered a new element which she called radium
    • She described the strange behaviour of radium and other similar elements as ‘radioactivity
  • Working with other physicists, including Henri Becquerel, she discovered the phenomenon of radiation and received the Nobel Prize in 1903 for her work
  • She was:
    • The first woman to receive a Nobel Prize
    • The first person to achieve two Nobel Prizes
    • The only person ever to win the Nobel Prize in two fields

Marie Curie, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

Marie Curie was the first person to use the term ‘radioactivity’

Peer Review

  • Marie Curie’s findings from her experiments and her conclusions were looked at by lots of other scientists
  • This is called peer review
  • All good scientific work should be published and peer-reviewed
  • By publishing work everyone can benefit from it:
    • Other scientists can learn from the findings
    • The scientist who did the work has their work checked for accuracy

Early Uses of Radiation

  • Scientists understanding of radiation has changed with time
    • For example, now it is common knowledge that ionising radiation can be harmful, causing cancer
  • But when radium was first discovered this was not known
    • In fact, people thought it was good for human health
    • Radium was put into lots of different products such as cosmetics, toothpaste, cleaning products and even chocolate
  • Marie Curie argued that this radium should not be used in these products until its properties were better understood
  • In 1927 the first findings that radiation exposure caused an increased risk of cancer was published
  • Radiation poisoning was the cause of Marie Curie’s death in 1934 after a lifetime working with radioactive atoms

Exam Tip

In your exam you need to be able to describe what peer review is and why it is important, but you do not need to know about the history of the discovery of radiation.

Author: Katie

Katie has always been passionate about the sciences, and completed a degree in Astrophysics at Sheffield University. She decided that she wanted to inspire other young people, so moved to Bristol to complete a PGCE in Secondary Science. She particularly loves creating fun and absorbing materials to help students achieve their exam potential.
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