One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The chemical element of atomic number 84, a radioactive metal occurring in nature only as a product of radioactive decay of uranium.
- ‘Radon can enter the body through the lungs, where it undergoes alpha decay to form polonium, a radioactive solid that remains in the lungs and continues to emit cancer-causing radiation.’
- ‘The uranium eventually decays to radium and, eventually to polonium-210, a substance that, when inhaled, can endanger tissue health and damage the immune system.’
- ‘This generator is a small pellet of polonium and beryllium, separated by foil within the fissionable fuel core.’
- ‘Gentry had discovered that granites contain microscopic coloration halos produced by the radioactive decay of primordial polonium.’
- ‘In the process, she discovered two new elements that are millions and billions of times more radioactive than uranium: radium and polonium.’
Late 19th century: modern Latin, from medieval Latin Polonia ‘Poland’ (the native country of Marie Curie, the element's co-discoverer).
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