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Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table
<---Francium       Actinium--->

Elements for Kids

Radium

The element radium

  • Symbol: Ra
  • Atomic Number: 88
  • Atomic Weight: 226
  • Classification: Alkaline earth metal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Solid
  • Density: 5.5 grams per cm cubed
  • Melting Point: 700°C, 1292°F
  • Boiling Point: 1140°C, 2084°F
  • Discovered by: Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898
Radium is the sixth element of the second column in the periodic table. It is the heaviest of the alkaline earth metals. Radium atoms have 88 electrons and 88 protons with 2 valence electrons in the outer shell.

Characteristics and Properties

Under standard conditions radium is a silvery metal. It is very radioactive emitting light rays that cause it to glow in the dark. When exposed to the air it will quickly form a black coating by reacting with the nitrogen in the air. It also reacts readily with other elements and substances including water.

The radiation given off by radium is extremely dangerous. It is over one million times as radioactive as uranium. Overexposure to radium can cause cancer and eventually death. Marie Curie, one of the original scientists who worked with radium, eventually died of overexposure to radiation.

Where is it found on Earth?

Radium is an extremely rare element on Earth. It is found in uranium ores. It takes about 7 tons of ore just to produce a single gram of radium. It is produced as a byproduct of uranium mining. Because it is so dangerous, only a few ounces are produced each year.

How is radium used today?

When radium was first discovered it had a number of uses. It was used in paints that would glow. These paints were used on clocks, watches, and instruments so people could see them in the dark. Other uses included cancer treatment, toothpaste, and research experiments.

Today radium does not have any major industrial uses due to the danger of its radioactivity.

How was it discovered?

Marie Curie and her husband Pierre discovered the element while experimenting with the mineral called pitchblende in 1898. It took another 12 years for Marie Curie to finally isolate metallic radium in 1910.

Where did radium get its name?

The name comes from the Latin word "radius" which means ray. They named it after the rays that were emitted from the element.

Isotopes

There are four naturally occurring isotopes of radium. The most abundant is radium-226 which has a half-life of 1600 years. None of the isotopes are stable. They are all produced by the decay of the elements uranium and thorium.

Interesting Facts about Radium

More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table







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