Books et al.History of Science

The living element

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Science  26 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6242, pp. 1435
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3104

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"If anything in the world is alive, is not radium alive?" asked the physician and journalist C. W. Saleeby in 1906. Writing at the height of a radium craze that swept across Europe and America in the early 20th century, Saleeby was one of many observers who connected radium and radioactivity to the mysteries of life. These couplings—and the curious, marvelous, and mostly forgotten scientific investigations that emanated from them—are the subject of the historian Luis A. Campos's fascinating history of radium and its uses in biological experimentation. Reviewer Helen Anne Curry praises the book's capable use of radium to reveal long-lost secrets of science and history alike.