So these historic samples in their glass tubes aren’t just scientific objects - they’re valuable history. They’re rare because so many early samples were thrown away as hazardous nuclear waste, and they’re still radioactive, so they can’t be treated as harmless antiques. Frederick Soddy used to take out samples like this to delight the Glasgow crowds at public lectures and to explain, long before there were such things as nuclear power stations, how radium could potentially fuel the future. But can his wonderful demonstrations be used to teach us today?
For our programme Radium Days writer Louise Welsh went along to a secret laboratory in Glasgow to meet David Sanderson, professor of Environmental Physics at Glasgow, and to see the historic samples in action with modern radiological protection to keep her safe. The results were impressive!