Science Birthdays, December 15

Today is the birthday of Antoine Henri Becquerel, born in 1852, he accidentally discovered radioactivity while investigating the work of William Roentgen.  He wrapped potassium uranyl sulfate, a florescent material in photographic plates.  Even though the plates were kept in a darkened drawer, they produced an image of a medal that was placed on top.  Along with Marie and Pierre Curie, all three won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics.

It is also the birthday of Maurice Wilkins, a physicist who contributed to the scientific understanding of phosphorescence, isotope separation, optical microscopy and X-ray diffraction. He also contributed to the development of the radar. He is best known for his work at King’s College in London on the structure of DNA. In recognition of this work, he, along with Francis Crick and James Watson, were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.


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