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The element that causes arguments - Uranium

By Justin Rowlatt BBC News

Uranium is the most divisive of elements.

When Otto Hahn first discovered in 1938 the astonishing amounts of energy that could be released by splitting a single uranium atom, he opened the way to a potentially unlimited source of electricity, but also to the atomic bomb.

Today, the element's potential poses a new conundrum, one that has split environmentalists right down the middle.

Ironically, the first uses of uranium hardly even hinted at its incredible potential.

On a laboratory table in the chemistry department of University College London, Professor Andrea Sella has lined up a selection of greenish-yellow glassware - a salt cellar, a wineglass.

The zesty colour was, he tells me, particularly fashionable in the late Victorian period because of an extraordinary quality it possesses.

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