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     88    

88 Ra Radium

Alkaline earth metal, mass: 226 u, no stable isotopes, abundance rank (earth/space): 84/?

Self-luminous paint which contains radium on the face and hand of an old clock, by day and in nighttime at black light. The radium in this clock from the middle of the 20th century is still almost completely present, but the luminescent material (possibly zinc sulfide) doesn't respond much any more, hence UV light is needed to make the effect visible.
Radium self-luminous paint Glowing radium
Radium is a ignoble metal, which chemically is very similar to barium. It is radioactive, the most stable isotope, 226Ra, has a half-life of 1602 years and decays to radon. Radium was discovered by Marie Curie and played an important role in the earliest research of radioactivity. Up to the late 1920s, it was treated quite unscrupulously and was even promoted as being healthy. A popular application was for self-luminous paint in clock dials until the 1960s. Only after many people died very gruesome and slowly, it was realized that radioactivity isn't harmless at all, but very tissue-damaging. Today radium is hardly used for anything, except in very small amounts for research. Natural radium is produced in the decay chain of uranium via thorium.




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