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Becquerel (bĕkərĕlˈ) [key], family of French physicists. Antoine César Becquerel, 1788–1878, was a pioneer in electrochemical science. He was professor of physics at the Muséum d'Histoire naturelle from 1838 until his death. Becquerel made a special study of the voltaic cell, telegraphy, and magnetism and wrote several books on these subjects. His second son, Alexandre Edmond Becquerel, 1820–91, succeeded his father, in 1878, as professor at the Muséum d'Histoire naturelle. Known for his studies in light, photochemistry, and phosphorescence (for which he invented the phosphoroscope), Alexandre wrote La Lumière, ses causes et ses effets (1867–68). His son, Antoine Henri Becquerel, 1852–1908, was professor at the École polytechnique, Paris, from 1895. He studied atmospheric polarization and the influence of the earth's magnetism on the atmosphere. In 1896 he discovered radioactivity in uranium; the Curies made further investigations of the phenomenon and shared with Becquerel the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics (see Curie, family).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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