Marie and Pierre Curie of France
Not necessary for life.
Named from the Latin word meaning “ray,” radium is a soft, shiny, silvery-white metal which tarnishes quickly. It is radioactive as well as chemically active, reacting with air, water and acids. Radium compounds glow, although the metal itself does not. The curie, a measurement of radioactivity, is based upon radium. Radium was used to treat cancer and in making luminous paints and glow-in-the-dark watch dials, but for the most part it is no longer used for these purposes. When alloyed with beryllium, it produces neutrons and it is still used as a neutron source. The most stable isotope of radium has a half-life of 1,600 years.
Radium has no known biological use.
Role in Life Processes
No known benefit for life processes in plants and animals.
Radium is a decay product of uranium, so it is found in small amounts in all uranium-bearing rocks. It was chiefly obtained as a by-product of uranium processing. It is seldom collected anymore.