Radium 50mm Cube
Radium 50mm Cube
Radium. The very word is a stand-in for harmful rays and mushroom clouds and visuals of glowing mutants. And yet to think that at one time, not too long ago, perhaps your grandparents can still remember the days, people could walk into any shop and buy any number of products containing small amounts of radium from beauty products to novelty items and even food - all heavily promoted for the supposedly invigorating energy imparted by the mysterious atomic rays.
That industry started collapsing soon after when reports of truly horrible ailments began circulating among those most exposed. Images of the aftermath in Hiroshima proved a final nail in that coffin and soon the public began to wise up to the true nature of the might of the decaying atom.
A collector seeking a sample of radium usually seeks a watch dial from the 1930's. Back in those days, when radioactivity was still poorly understood, a watch owner who could tell time in pitch darkness was at the leading edge of tech. A small amount of radium sulphate combined with zinc sulphide was painted on each dial. Radium's decay bumped off the electrons from the zinc causing light to be emitted. However, the radiation literally ripped apart the zinc sulphide molecules so that the effect became muted. But the radium itself, with its inhumanly long 1600 year half-life, would remain behind in its near entirety despite the passage of nearly 100 years since it was first cooked up in the labs of the United States Radium Corporation.
Here we provide the collector with one such keepsake suspended at the center of a water-clear black of Lucite acrylic. Each brass dial was once used as the hour hand on a watch and was made sometime during the 1920's or 1930's. Its shape frames the radium-doped zinc sulfide paint and contains a tiny amount of this metal made from the first nuclear reactors from this era which would soon be repurposed to make the superweapons born from the Manhattan Project.