Ștefania Mărăcineanu: Pioneering Researcher in the Field of Radioactivity and Artificial Rain

Stefania Maracineanu
ștefania mărăcineanu

Ștefania Mărăcineanu graduated with a degree in physical and chemical science in 1910 and started her career as a teacher at the Central School for Girls in Bucharest. While working as a teacher, she was awarded a scholarship from the Romanian Ministry of Science and decided to further her education by pursuing a graduate degree at the Radium Institute in Paris.

The Radium Institute was becoming a renowned center for the study of radioactivity, under the leadership of physicist Marie Curie. Mărăcineanu began working on her PhD thesis, which was focused on the element polonium, the same element discovered by Curie.

While researching the half-life of polonium, Mărăcineanu observed that the half-life seemed to be dependent on the type of metal it was placed on. This led her to hypothesize that the alpha rays from the polonium had transformed some of the atoms of the metal into radioactive isotopes. This was the first known example of artificial radioactivity. Mărăcineanu earned her PhD in physics from Sorbonne University in Paris. After spending four years working at the Astronomical Observatory in Meudon, she returned to Romania and established the country’s first laboratory for the study of radioactivity.

Mărăcineanu dedicated much of her time to researching artificial rain, which involved a trip to Algeria to test her results. She also studied the relationship between earthquakes and rainfall, and was the first to report that there was a significant increase in radioactivity in the epicenter prior to an earthquake. In 1936, Mărăcineanu’s work was recognized by the Academy of Sciences of Romania, where she was elected as a Director of Research. However, she never received worldwide recognition for her discovery.


Written by Alex McCurthy

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