Karnataka Science and Technology Academy

Department of Science and Technology, Government of Karnataka

November 11: On This Day

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November 11: Discovery of Americium and Curium-First Announcement

  • The discoveries of Americium and Curium were announced in late 1945 by Glenn Theodore Seaborg on the live radio Kids Quiz show on November 11.
  • The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1951 was awarded jointly to Edwin Mattison McMillan and Glenn Theodore Seaborg “for their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements”

Americium (Am)

  • Synthetic chemical element of the actinoid series of the periodic table, atomic number 96.
  • Curium is named after chemist and physicist Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre Curie, who were pioneers in understanding radioactivity.
  • Curium is used primarily for basic scientific research. Some of its isotopes, 242Cm generates about three watts of thermal energy per gram, more than plutonium produces.
  • Both 242Cm and 244Cm have been used as power sources for space and medical practices.
  • If absorbed in to the body, curium accumulates in the bones. Its radiation destroys red blood cell formation. Consequently, curium is considered very toxic.

Curium (Cm)

  • Synthetic chemical element (atomic number 95) of the actinoid series of the periodic table.
  • Was artificially produced from plutonium-239 (atomic number 94)
  • The element was named after the United States of America.
  • The metal is silvery white and tarnishes slowly in dry air at room temperature.
  • Americium-241 has been used industrially in fluid-density gauges, thickness gauges, aircraft fuel gauges, and distance-sensing devices, all of which use its gamma radiation. As smoke detectors found in nearly all buildings and the potential to power future space missions.
  • Americium is a highly radioactive element that can be dangerous when handled incorrectly and can cause severe illnesses.

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