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A.H. Becquerel (1852-1908)

photo of Henri Becquerel

Henri Becquerel's early work was concerned with the polarization of light, the phenomenon of phosphorescence and the absorption of light by crystals (his doctoral thesis). He was elected a member of the French Académie des Sciences in 1889. For his discovery of natural radioactivity in 1896, Henri Becquerel was awarded half of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, the other half being awarded to Pierre and Marie Curie for their study of the Becquerel radiation. This is why the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) of 1975 (Resolution 8) decided to honour Henri Becquerel by adopting the special name of becquerel, Bq, for the SI derived unit of activity. This proposal had been made by the International Commission for Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU) and accepted by the Consultative Committee for Units (CCU) as Recommendation U 1 (1974), the earlier non-SI unit having been named after the Curies.

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