Essay by babydogg15High School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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Radioactive substances spontaneously emit rays that are similar to X-rays, however these rays are generated from the actual substances. These continual emissions can last for months at a time without outside assistance. An example of these natural substances are Uranium and radium, they are found in small quantities throughout the interior of the earth.

Soon after the discovery of the X-ray, Henry Becquerel the effects of radioactive substances in 1896. When uranium salts affected a photographic plate without any assistance of a fluorescent light, the rays emitted from the radioactive substances ionized the air particles. Questions arose as to what in fact these emitted rays were and what allowed them to continually radiate. Some individuals thought this discovery to be completely irrelevant and unimportant.

A certain woman scientist by the name of Marie Curie used radiation as a method to cure various ailments. This polish scientist worked as a doctor and introduced the whole concept of using radium and radiotherapy as a healing agent.

This technique is still prevalent today, used mainly to treat certain forms of cancer. Although radioactivity damages all tissue cells, it affects the diseased or unhealthy cells far quicker than the healthy cells. To prevent any unnecessary damage to healthy cells, the radioactive waves were directly aimed at the tumors. Another method used to destroy tumors was to embed radium "seeds" that discharged radioactive gas into the specific tissues.

Marie Curie was the first to obtain pure samples of Radium. She spent an exuberant amount of time digging through earth before she was successful. Her first successful extraction took a year to accomplish. Marie's husband, the scientist Pierre, aided his spouse in her tedious work.

Marie and Pierre were infatuated with their studies of radioactivity and radioactive substances, however they were impecunious. They were in...