On Saturday, Google celebrated the 140th birthday of Stefania Maracineanu. She was one of the first women to find and study radioactivity.
Stefania Maracineanu got her degree in physical and chemical science in 1910. They started working as a teacher at Bucharest’s Central School for Girls. During this time, the Romanian Ministry of Science gave her a scholarship. She later chose to do graduate research at the Radium Institute in Paris.
Marie Curie, a physicist, was in charge of the institute at the time. And it becoming a center for the study of radioactivity around the world. Maracineanu started working on her PhD thesis about polonium, which is the same element that Curie found.
During her study of polonium’s half-life, Mărăcineanu noticed that it seemed to depend on what kind of metal it put on. This made her wonder if the polonium’s alpha rays had turned some of the metal’s atoms into radioactive isotopes. Her research led to what is probably the first case of radioactivity that made in a lab.
Mărăcineanu went to the Sorbonne University in Paris to get her PhD in physics. After working at the Astronomical Observatory in Meudon for four years. She went back to Romania and set up the country’s first lab for studying radioactivity.
Mărăcineanu spent most of her time doing research on how to make rain. She went to Algeria to test findings. They also looked into how earthquakes and rain related. She the first person to say there a big rise in radioactivity in the epicenter before the earthquake. In 1936, Mărăcineanu’s work recognized by the Academy of Sciences of Romania. Which chose her to be a Director of Research. However, she never got world-wide credit for the discovery.