Emmy-Noether-Vorlesung: Seduced by Radium: How Radioactivity Entered the Bedroom

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By today’s standards, it is almost shocking to see how radium was handled in the US in the early 20th century. Its inward journey from the exclusionary space of the scientific laboratory to the intimacy of the bedroom highlights first and foremost how corporate priorities and the emerging nuclear industry dictated the scientific agenda. Radium – a scientific element – entered the home, where it was consumed liberally, ending up in the medicine cabinet or on the bedside table. By doing so, radium became a catalyst of social expectations and a force in shaping perceptions ranging from gender roles, health and safety, to science itself. The talk traces the extraordinary path of commodified radium. It is a story of exceptional entrepreneurial and scientific acumen, but also of tragic and even heroic loss, of especially women’s exploitation, and of a lack of radiation protection standards.

Prof. Dr. Maria Rentetzi from the Chair of Science, Technology and Gender Studies at FAU continues with the annual lecture. She will explain how radium, a scientific object, became an easily accessible and widely used commodity of every day live. This story goes far beyond safety and health issues, including the exploitation of men and women alike.

When: 15. 06.2023, 6 pm

Where: Senatssaal in the Kollegienhaus, KH 1.011 (Universitätsstraße 15, 91054)


Please register for the lecture by June 1, 2023 by sending an e-mail to the Office of Equality and Diversity: gender-und-diversity@fau.de