Google Doodle pays tribute to Stefania Maracineanu

On Saturday, June 18, 2022, Google released a doodle in honor of Romanian physicist Stefania Maracineanu’s 140th birthday. One of the first women to discover and study radioactivity was Maracineanu.

She was born in Bucharest on June 18, 1882. What is perhaps the first instance of artificial radioactivity was the result of her study on polonium.

Stefania Maracineanu is shown in the doodle working on Polonium in a laboratory. Maracineanu devoted her time to learning and researching artificial rain.

Stefania Maracineanu began her work as a teacher at the Central School for Girls in Bucharest after earning a degree in physical and chemical science in 1910.

Maracineanu received a scholarship from the Romanian Ministry of Science while she was there. She made the decision to pursue graduate studies at the Paris-based Radium Institute.

Under the direction of physicist Marie Curie, the Radium Institute swiftly rose to prominence as a leading institution for the study of radiation. Maracineanu started research on her PhD thesis about the element that Curie discovered, polonium.

Stefania Maracineanu discovered when studying the half-life of polonium that it appeared to be influenced by the kind of metal it was placed on. She began to wonder if the polonium’s alpha rays had converted some of the metal’s atoms into radioactive isotopes as a result.

Thanks to her research, she discovered what is perhaps the first instance of artificial radioactivity.

Stefania Maracineanu studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris to complete her two-year PhD in physics. She established Romania’s first laboratory for the study of radioactivity after spending four years working at the Astronomical Observatory in Meudon.

Stefania Maracineanu spent a lot of time studying artificial rain, and she even travelled to Algeria to test her findings.

She also looked into the relationship between earthquakes and precipitation, and she was the first to note that there is a notable rise in radioactivity in the earthquake epicentre.

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