Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from P-T

Perey, Marguerite

francium element found sciences

[pairay] (1909–75) French nuclear chemist: discoverer of actinium K (francium); the first woman to be elected to the Académie des Sciences.

Marguerite Perey’s first wish was to study medicine, but the death of her father made that impossible. She joined staff as a junior laboratory assistant in 1929, and almost left when she found the conditions of work so austere, but she remained at the Institute for 20 years. In 1939 she discovered a new chemical element, which she named francium (Fr) after her country. It had been intensively looked for by many experienced researchers, and was found by the modest 29-year-old technician. She found this by a careful study of the radioactive disintegration of the rare natural radioelement actinium, showing that, by a series of changes, this is converted into francium. The element is one of the isotopes with atomic number 87, and is the heaviest of the alkali metal group and the most electropositive element known. It is exceptionally rare in nature, is itself radioactive and is now made artificially by atomic bombardment. It has been estimated that the entire Earth’s crust (to a depth of 1 km) contains only 15 g of francium, and its rarity and intense radioactivity both point to the elegant work and skill of its discoverer. Encouraged to take a degree course during the Second World War, she obtained her degree in 1946.

Perey became head of research and, subsequently, administrator and director of the nuclear research centre at Strasbourg, and held a chair there from 1949. She received the Légion d’honneur, Grand Prix Scientifique de la Ville de Paris (1960), Lauréate de l’Académie des Sciences (1950 and 1960) and the Silver Medal of the Chemistry Society of France (1964). She was elected to the Institut de France as the first woman member of the Académie des Sciences in 1962.

Perfect Gentlemen [next] [back] Perelman, Ronald Owen - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Ronald Owen Perelman, Social and Economic Impact

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

almost 5 years ago

brown eyes fwejhgcrigfrygfigfkahkyrh7ihfakyfiehrgir7h