History of Science

Why did it take scientists 80 years to discover francium?

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2010-03-19 21:27:39

Francium is a natural chemical element but the total quantity of

francium in the earth crust is only approx. 30 g. Francium has ca.

40 isotopes and isomers but only two are natural: 221Fr (in the

neptunium decay chain series) and 223Fr (in the actinium decay

chain series). Artificially preparation of francium isotopes is

also extremely difficult and expensive; and the chemistry and

physics of isotopes was developed essentially after 1940.

Supplementary, the most stable isotope of francium has a half life

of only 21,8 minutes and is strongly radioactive; the half lives of

the artificially prepared isotopes are more smaller.

This is sufficient reason to explain why francium was later

discovered and why even today is only slightly studied.

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