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IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


Publications

Artificial radioactivity and fission: The alchemists’ crucible

In 1934, Irène Curie (daughter of Pierre and Marie Curie) and her husband Frederic Joliot discovered that it was possible to artificially produce radioactive atoms (or radioisotopes). This significant discovery led to another breakthrough discovery: the fission of uranium.

From the 1940s, larger machines quickly replaced the small sources of radium and polonium used by the pioneering researchers: nuclear power plants and particle accelerators. The number of applications for radioactivity continued to rise and radiation protection approaches had to be adapted.


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