Did you know that Marguerite Perey was born today in 1909? She was a French physicist. When Marguerite Perey was young she hoped to study medicine, but her father passed away and her family could not afford for her to go to school. When she was 19 she interviewed for a job and was hired to work and study with Marie Curie. While she was gathering the element actinium for Marie Curie’s experiments, she noticed that the material emitted unexpected radiation. With more research she discovered a new element! She named it “francium” for France.
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The symbol for francium is Fr. The atomic number is 87. It was previously known as eka-caesium or actinium K. It is the second rarest naturally occurring element and is highly radioactive. It decays into astatine, radium and radon.
After the discovery of francium, Marguerite Perey received a grant to start her studies at university. She received her PhD and eventually made the head of the department of nuclear chemistry at the University of Strasbourg. She founded a laboratory that would eventually become the Laboratory of Nuclear Chemistry in the Center for Nuclear Research.
Marguerite Perey was the first woman to be elected to the French Academie des Sciences. This honor was denied to her mentor, Marie Curie.
Marguerite Perey hoped that francium could be used to diagnose cancer, but francium was highly carcinogenic. Perey eventually developed bone cancer, which lead to her death.