The discovery that uranium was radioactive came only in 1896 when Henri Becquerel in Paris left a sample of uranium on top of an unexposed photographic plate.
It caused this to become cloudy and he deduced that uranium was giving off invisible rays.
Radioactivity had been discovered.
Uranium is a metallic, silver-gray element that is a member of the actinide series.
Because uranium is radioactive, it is constantly emitting particles and changing into other elements.
It is the principle fuel for nuclear reactors, but it also used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
Searching for uranium is in some ways easier than for other mineral resources because the radiation signature of uranium's decay products allows deposits to be identified and mapped from the air.
99.3% of the uranium found on Earth is Uranium-238 which is fertile, while the rest (0.7%) is Uranium-235, a fissile fuel.
Therefore only a very small amount of the uranium found naturally can be used in a nuclear fission process unless it undergoes an enrichment process, which increases the concentration of Uranium-235 or the Uranium-238 is bred from its fertile form into a fissile isotope of plutonium.
In the last 60 years uranium has become one of the world’s most important energy minerals.
Uranium has many other uses outside of its primary use in the generation of electricity.
It has provided the world with many positive innovations in the medical and industrial sectors, and also has been negatively scrutinized for its use in and production of weapons products.
Over 2/3 of the world's production of uranium from mines is from Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia.