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Joseph Lambert

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Radioactivity

In 1896, Henri Becquerel stored a wrapped photographic plate in a closed desk drawer, and a phosphorescent uranium compound laid on top, awaiting a bright day to test his idea that sunlight would make the phosphorescent uranium emit rays. It remained there several days. Thus by sheer accident, he created a new experiment, for when he developed the photographic plate on 1 Mar 1896, he found a fogged image in the shape of the rocks. The material was spontaneously generating and emitting energetic rays totally without the external sunlight source. This was a landmark event. The new form of penetrating radiation was the discovery of the effect of radioactivity. He had in fact reported an earlier, related experiment to the French Academy on 24 Feb 1896, though at that time he thought phosphorescence was the cause.«.

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