Google on Saturday celebrated the 140th birth anniversary of tefania Mărăcineanu, one of the leading women in the discovery and research of radioactivity.
Morecinenu graduated with a physical and chemical science degree in 1910, and began her career as a teacher at the Central School for Girls in Bucharest. During this time, he earned a scholarship from the Romanian Ministry of Science and later decided to pursue graduate research at the Radium Institute in Paris.
Notably, at the time, the institute was becoming a center for the study of radioactivity around the world under the direction of the physicist Marie Curie. Maracineanu began work on his PhD thesis on polonium – the same element that Curie discovered.
During his research on the half-life of polonium, Morecinenu observed that the half-life depended on the type of metal on which it was cast. This got him wondering whether the alpha rays from the polonium had transferred some of the metal atoms to radioactive isotopes. His research most likely resulted in the first example of artificial radioactivity.
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To complete his PhD in physics, Morecinenu joined the Sorbonne University in Paris. After working for four years at the Astronomical Observatory in Medon, she returned to Romania and founded her homeland’s first laboratory for the study of radioactivity.
Mărăcineanu devoted much of his time to researching artificial rainfall, including traveling to Algeria to test his results. She also studied the link between earthquakes and rainfall, becoming the first to report that earthquakes caused a significant increase in radioactivity at the epicenter. Morecinenu’s work was recognized by the Academy of Sciences of Romania in 1936, where he was selected to serve as research director, but he never received global recognition for the discovery.