Polonium will be forever linked with the names Curie and Litvinenko and has negligible desirable features.
Polonium (symbol Po and atomic number 84) is a radioactive metal, discovered by the Curies and named after Marie’s home country of Poland, in 1898, a period when the country didn’t actually exist.
Po210 accumulates in tobacco and as a result cigarettes contain quite high levels of it, says Prof Allan Blackman, in ep 61 of Elemental.
The Elemental podcast is celebrating 150 years since the periodic table was first published by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.
Find out more about events during the United Nation’s International Year of the Periodic Table.
Professor Allan Blackman is at Auckland University of Technology.