Discoveries, so long as they are novel, naturally excite expectant optimism as to their application. This is the stage at which honest but undiscriminating enthusiasm and deliberate fakery both flourish. Radium, the possibilities and limitations of which are still undefined, is an instance in point. Time and experience are needed to reduce to rational limits the many claims made for it.
One of the uses suggested for radium is the stimulation of plant growth. Various experimenters have investigated the effect of radium emanation on the growth of plants under laboratory conditions. Gager, Fabre and Stocklasa have each reported stimulation of the growth of plants or the germinating activity of seeds under the influence of an optimum strength of radium, while a greater strength retarded growth.
The results of these laboratory experiments aroused interest in the possibility of using radium as a soil fertilizer under practical agricultural conditions. H. H. Rusby,