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From political act to a poison

SPECULATION that Yasser Arafat was poisoned by Polonium-210 (News, November 8) is a reminder that the radioactive element was so named as a political act.

Its discoverer, Marie Curie (born Maria Sklodowska), called it after her native Poland, at that time under Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian control.

She hoped that the publicity would help her homeland regain its sovereignty.


Vienna, Austria

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