Letter | Published:

The Occurrence of Radium with Uranium

Nature volume 70, page 222 (07 July 1904) | Download Citation



A LITTLE time back, Mr. B. B. Boltwood published in this Journal (May 26, p. 80) a preliminary notice of an investigation of the ratio of uranium to radium in various minerals. I have for some time been engaged in a similar investigation, which, though the results are not yet matured, seems to be leading to the conclusion that this ratio is constant, as in Mr. Boltwood's experiments. An interesting case is the mineral torbernite, or copper uranite. This mineral forms transparent green tetragonal crystals the composition of which is accurately represented by the formula CuO.2UO3.P2O5.8H2O. The substance dissolves easily in sulphuric acid, forming a perfectly clear green solution. This solution, when boiled, gives the radium emanation, and the quantity of emanation produced in one day is about the same as that yielded by the same weight of Joachimsthal pitchblende. The percentage of uranium is also about the same. If the radium in this mineral has been produced since the formation of the mineral (and the recent quantitative experiments of Sir W. Ramsay and Mr. Soddy on the absolute rate of production of the emanation seem to make that certain), there is practically no choice as to what the parent substance should be. Uranium is the only candidate. The great complexity of most of the radio-active minerals may make it difficult to obtain conclusive evidence by studying them. But here there seems to be no alternative but to conclude that uranium is the parent.

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