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Of all the radioactive elements discovered at the end of the nineteenth century, it was radium that became the focus of both public fascination and entrepreneurial zeal.

This unlikely element ascended on the market as a desirable item – a present for a queen, a prize in a treasure hunt, a glow-in- the-dark dance costume and soon became a supposed cure-all in everyday twentieth-century life, when medical practitioners and business people (reputable and otherwise) devised ingenious ways of commodifying the new wonder element, and enthusiastic customers welcomed their radioactive wares into their homes.

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Lucy Jane Santos—herself the proud owner of a formidable collection of radium beauty treatments—is today’s guest. She’s the author of the new book “Half Lives,” which delves into the stories of these products and details the gradual downfall and discredit of the radium industry through the eyes of the people who bought, sold and eventually came to fear the once-fetishized substance.

Cite This Article
"Half Lives: The Unlikely History of Radium" History on the Net
© 2000-2021, Salem Media.
October 23, 2021 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/half-lives-the-unlikely-history-of-radium>
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