One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A radioactive isotope of phosphorus; specifically phosphorus-32, which decays by beta emission with a half-life of 14.3 days, and is widely used as a diagnostic and therapeutic agent.
1930s; earliest use found in Nature: a weekly journal of science. From radio- + phosphorus, apparently after French radiophosphore. The French paper was read at a session of the French Academy of Sciences on 29 January 1934, but not published until later that year. The source cited in quot. 1934 is a different paper (in English) by the same authors, reporting on the same experiments.
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