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It is important to observe that it appears this phenomenon must not be attributed to the luminous radiation emitted by phosphorescence ... One hypothesis which presents itself to the mind naturally enough would be to suppose that these rays, whose effects have a great similarity to the effects produced by the rays studied by M Lenard and M Röntgen, are invisible rays ... Henri Becquerel
Some recent work by E Fermi and L Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. Albert Einstein, letter to Franklin Roosevelt, 1939
[From uranium] there are present at least two distinct types of radiation: one that is very readily absorbed, which will be termed for convenience the α radiation, and the other of a more penetrative character, which will be termed the β radiation. Ernest Rutherford, article Philosophical Magazine 1899 ‘Uranium Radiation and the Electrical Conduction Produced By It’
In the discussion of the energies involved in the deformation of nuclei, the concept of surface tension of nuclear matter has been used and its value had been estimated from simple considerations regarding nuclear forces. It must be remembered, however, that the surface tension of a charged droplet is diminished by its charge, and a rough estimate shows that the surface tension of nuclei, decreasing with increasing nuclear charge, may become zero for atomic numbers of the order of 100. It seems therefore possible that the uranium nucleus has only small stability of form, and may, after neutron capture, divide itself into two nuclei of roughly equal size (the precise ratio of sizes depending on liner structural features and perhaps partly on chance). These two nuclei will repel each other and should gain a total kinetic energy of c.200 Mev, as calculated from nuclear radius and charge. This amount of energy may actually be expected to be available from the difference in packing fraction between uranium and the elements in the middle of the periodic system. The whole ‘fission’ process can thus be described in an essentially classical way, without having to consider quantum-mechanical ‘tunnel effects’, which would actually be extremely small, on account of the large masses involved. Lise Meitner & Otto Robert Frisch, Nature, 1939
A hundred and ninety micrograms of Uranium 233 have been taken. Foyle’s War I: The Eternity Ring, Secret Service underling, ITV 2013
The RUI seems to have found a large load of Uranium. Agente S03: Operazione Atlantide 1965 starring John Ericson & Barnardina Sarrocco & Cristina Gaioni & Maria Granada & Carlo Hinterman & Beni Deus & Jose Manuel Martin & Erika Blanc & Dario Michaelis & Dario de Grassi et al, director Domenico Paolella, spies at airport
Uranium, even depleted uranium, has a draw-back – it’s radioactive. Best Evidence: Gulf War Illness, Discovery 2007
Native people – about two-thirds of the uranium in the United States is on indigenous lands. On a worldwide scale, about 70% of the uranium is either in Aboriginal lands in Australia or up in the Subarctic of Canada, where native people are still fighting uranium mining. Winona LaDuke
The professor and the general made an unlikely team. When Groves took charge of the Manhattan Project in 1942 there was barely enough plutonium in the world to cover the head of a pin. And very little uranium 235. The Day After Trinity, 1981
Do you actually think uranium fission can be used for the construction of weapons? Copenhagen 2002 starring Stephen Rea & Daniel Craig & Francesca Annis et al, director Howard Davies, Bohr to Heisenberg
L’Isotopie et les Elements Isotopes. Professor Madame Pierre Curie
Nearly thirty years later a young French scientist made a fateful decision to take up Mendaleev’s challenge and probe the secrets of uranium. Her name was Marie Curie. Stephen Hawking’s Universe: Cosmic Alchemy
In 1896 in Paris came the most significant discovery of all. One that more than any other would unlock the secrets of the atom. The metal uranium was shown to emit a strange and powerful energy that was named radioactivity. It seemed straight out of science fiction. Radioactive metals were warm to touch. They could even burn the skin. And the rays could pass through solid matter as if it wasn’t there. It truly was a marvel of the modern age. Jim Al-Khalili, Atom: The Clash of the Titans, BBC 2007
My experiments proved that the radiation of uranium compounds ... is an atomic property of the element of uranium. Its intensity is proportional to the quantity of uranium contained in the compound, and depends neither on conditions of chemical combination, nor on external circumstances, such as light or temperature ...
The radiation of thorium has an intensity of the same order as that of uranium, and is, as in the case of uranium, an atomic property of the element.
It was necessary at this point to find a new term to define this new property of matter manifested by the elements of uranium and thorium. I proposed the word radioactivity which has since become generally adopted; the radioactive elements have been called radio elements. Marie Curie
This film is the story of a metal. A metal which for a hundred and fifty years since its discovery at the end of the eighteenth century was virtually unused. Now this metal is being dug and blasted from the earth at such a rapidly increasing rate that all known reserves could well be exhausted before the year 2000. This is the story of Uranium. Horizon: Uranium Goes Critical, BBC 1979
Uranium doesn’t have much of a past, and it may not have much of a future. ibid.
An energy source that was once described as limitless. ibid.
The world has over two hundred powered reactors. ibid.
Only its weight was remarkable: one and a half times as heavy as lead. ibid.
Until the 1940s glazing pottery and colouring glass was the most important application that had been found for uranium. ibid.
In ultra-violet light the florescence is very strong ... A great many uranium salts and minerals display the same strong fluorescence. ibid.
Paris 1896 and Henri Becquerel was investigating whether there was a relationship between fluorescence and the newly discovered X-Rays ... The uranium was spontaneously emitting its own radiation ... Becquerel’s rays were christened radioactivity. ibid.
A new phrase entered the language: nuclear fission. ibid.
Might a chain reaction be possible? ... In 1942 in a squash court in Chicago Enrico Fermi built a small mountain of uranium and graphite to try to find out ... He could only hope that the chain reaction would start before his pile went through the ceiling. ibid.
Now at last they found a use for uranium. It was a cataclysmic start. ibid.
In 1956 Calder Hall in Cumbria became the world’s first nuclear-powered reactor. ibid.
Uranium is not limitless. The total known reserves are about two and a half million tons, and most of that will be gone by the year 2000. ibid.
It has to be uranium. And there’s only one type, one isotope – U-235 – that’s useful. Yet in any uranium bar the U-235 makes less than 1%; the remainder is the non-fissile U-238. ibid.
99% of all the uranium mined is unused. ibid.
Conventional nuclear reactors are not the answer to our energy needs. They’re too greedy. ibid.
The price has rocketed ... 70% of the Western world’s known resources are found in just four countries. The USA has the biggest share, but it’s probably less than their own needs. Then South Africa, most of whose reserves are in Namibia. Australia with extensive untapped deposits. And Canada – Europe’s principle supplier. ibid.
There is some uranium everywhere. ibid.
There are undoubtedly hazards. After all uranium is a radioactive metal. The principle danger comes not from uranium itself but from its daughter products, particularly radon. ibid.
In the Spring of 1896 Henri Becquerel’s discovery of radioactivity opened up a whole new dimension to geological dating of the Earth. Six years later Ernest Rutherford realised that the law of radioactive decay could be used to date rocks. Horizon: Message in the Rocks, BBC 1979
Once enriched, uranium atoms can be fissioned or split yielding their energy. Horizon: The President’s Guide to Science, BBC 2008
Uranium prices have fallen in real terms. Stuff: A Horizon Guide to Materials, BBC 2012