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Rarely has a woman made such a name in history as Marie Curie did. The accomplishments of Marie Curie provide ample evidence as to how perseverance and hard work can work wonders

Marie Curie was a very renowned physics and chemist, mainly known for being a pioneer in the field of radioactivity. She was the female professor at the University of Paris and till date, is the first and only person honoured with Nobel Prizes in two different sciences. Wife of fellow-Nobellaureate Pierre Curie, she was also the founder of the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw. Though Curie was born and brought up in Poland, she later gained French citizenship. Being proud of her Polish roots, she named the first new chemical element that was discovered by her as "polonium", after her native country.

Born on: November 7, 1867 Born in: Warsaw, Poland Nationality: Polish, French Career: Physicist and Chemist Died on: July 4, 1934

Perhaps the most famous of all women scientists, Maria Sklodowska-Curie is notable for her many firsts:

She was the first to use the term radioactivity for this phenomenon. She was the first woman in Europe to receive her doctorate of science. In 1903, she became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Physics. The award, jointly awarded to Curie, her husband Pierre, and Henri Becquerel, was for the discovery of radioactivity. 1

She was also the first female lecturer, professor and head of Laboratory at the Sorbonne University in Paris (1906).

In 1911, she won an unprecedented second Nobel Prize (this time in chemistry) for her discovery and isolation of pure radium and radium components. She was the first person ever to receive two Nobel Prizes.

She was the first mother-Nobel Prize Laureate of daughter-Nobel Prize Laureate. Her oldest daughter Irene Joliot-Curie also won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1935).

She is the first woman which has been laid to rest under the famous dome of the Pantheon in Paris for her own merits.

She received 15 gold medals, 19 degrees, and other honors.


Marie born

Curie as

was Maria

Skodowska on 7th November 1867, in Warsaw, Poland. Bronisawa Skodowski and Wadysaw Skodowski, both of them with teachers, the latter and both the the Maria teaching mathematics and were who highest towards children. mother gave physics. Her father teachers priority She was born to

education of their was a precocious child and was the most among of Marie Curie were purely a result of hard work and patience. Maria's paternal grandfather Jzef Skodowski had been a respected teacher in Lublin, where he taught the young Bolesaw Prus, who would become one of the leading figures in the history of Polish literature. Her father Wadysaw Skodowski taught mathematics and physics, subjects that Maria was to pursue, and was also director of two Warsaw gymnasia for boys.[3] After Russian authorities eliminated laboratory instruction from the Polish schools, he brought much of the lab equipment home, and instructed his children in its use. He was eventually fired by the Russian 3 brilliant them.

Though she displayed exceptional talents, the lifelong accomplishments

supervisors for pro-Polish sentiments, and forced to take lower paying posts; the family also lost money on a bad investment, and eventually chose to supplement the income by lodging boys in their house.Maria's mother Bronisawa operated a prestigious Warsaw boarding school for girls; she resigned from the position after Maria was born. She died from tuberculosis when Maria was twelve. Maria's father was an atheist; her mothera devout Catholic. Marias childhood was not a prosperous one. The family often struggled financially. Nevertheless, her parents maintained their focus on educating their children well. Maria easily learnt most of the things from her parents. Marie had four siblings, all of whom were older to her, Zofia (born 1862), Jzef (1863), Bronisawa (1865) and Helena (1866). She experienced tragedy at a very young age, when she first lost her sister Zofia to typhus and later, suffered from the death of her mother, from tuberculosis.

Following these events, she lost faith in her Roman Catholic religion and become an agnostic. Right from her childhood, Marie exhibited an exceptionally strong memory. At the same time, she was so much interested in study that at times, she used to forget to eat food or even have her sleep. She graduated from a Russian lyceum at the age of sixteen and came first in her class. She also received a gold medal on completion of her secondary education.

Though Marie was a brilliant student, her gender as well as the Russian reprisals, following Polish 1863 uprising against Tsarist Russia, resulted in her admission being denied by a regular university. She attended Warsaw's illegal Polish Floating University, while working as a teacher alongside, in order to support her family financially. She also worked as a governess for some time. She used the money earned from her jobs to support Bronisawas medicine study, in Paris.


In 1891, Marie went to Paris, to join her sister, and enrolled herself at the University of Paris. There, she studied mathematics, physics and chemistry. She got her undergraduate degree in 1893, coming first. She completed her master's degree in mathematics, from University of Paris, in 1895.

It was while she was in Paris that she met and shared lab space with one Pierre Curie, her future husband and collaborator. Ten years her elder, Pierre was Lab Chief for the Paris Municipal School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry, and he had a background in magnetism and crystals. Marie was doing post-graduate research on the magnetic properties of various

types of steel, a project financed by an industrial company. The two not only encouraged each other's work beneficially, but fell in love. They married in July 1885. Both of them shared common interests and started doing research together. When Marie met Pierre Curie at the University of Paris, he was an instructor in the School of Physics and Chemistry, the cole Suprieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI). The couple had two daughters - Irne Joliot-Curie and ve Curie. The elder one (Irne) won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935, while, the younger one (ve) wrote the biography on her mother called, Madame Curie, after her mother's death.

Marie was a "go-getter", a woman with tremendous drive and ambition. She was a product of the school system, racking up many firsts by the time she met Pierre. Pierre, on the other hand, was a school system dropout. His parents had him home-schooled with some capable tutors in the more advanced courses. Like Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr, Pierre may have had a learning disability. Nevertheless, he passed his entrance exam for the Sorbonne and obtained his Masters degree, the licence es sciences, at the age of 18. Working with his brother, he began investigating crystals. This research led to the discovery of piezoelectricity three years later. He published a number of important papers, but his unorthodox schooling and his failure to write up his thesis and finish his doctorate virtually barred him from positions at all the top schools in France. Pierre was the "ultimate outsider" as one biographer has described him.

Marie still had serious reservations about marrying Pierre. For one thing, she didn't want to give up her independence as to a single she to woman. Married Pierre, have would

do the usual cooking and cleaning, leaving less time for physics. Another major obstacle was the fact that Pierre was not Polish. If she married him, she would have to give up her patriotic dream of returning home to liberate Poland. Pierre then offered to emigrate to Poland and live with her there. As the months passed, Marie realized that she and Pierre were compatible, and that they shared a positivist political and scientific vision. Slowly, she fell in love with this eccentric idealist.


Marie Curie got in touch with a factory in Austria that removed the Uranium tonnes product, of from the pitchblende worthless was even was set the for industrial use and bought several waste more much about to of original which

What Is Radioactivity? What is Radiation? Unstable atomic nuclei will spontaneously decompose to form nuclei with a higher stability. The decomposition process is called radioactivity. The energy and particles which are released during the decomposition process are called radiation. When unstable nuclei decompose in nature, the process is referred to as natural radioactivity. When the unstable nuclei are prepared in the laboratory, the decomposition is called induced radioactivity. Alpha, beta, and gamma radiation also accompany induced radioactivity. Radioactive isotopes are prepared in the lab using bombardment reactions to convert a stable nucleus into one which is radioactive.

radioactive pitchblende, cheaper. processing extract the

than and Marie the tiny

pitchblende quantities

Radium. This involved working on a much larger scale than before, with 20 kg batches of the mineral grinding, dissolving, filtering, collecting, crystallising and precipitating, redissolving, recrystallizing.

Marie and Pierre were working on the theory that pitchblende must contain traces far of an unknown substance more radioactive

than Uranium. Two months later,

they published an article, telling the world about the existence of an element, which they named Polonium. Later that year, in December, they announced the existence of a second element, named Radium for its intense radioactivity. In the next few years, the couple processed tons of pitchblende, mainly concentrating the radioactive substances and eventually isolating the chloride salts. In April 1902, they managed to refine Radium Chloride. However, the isolation of Polonium was still not a reality.

The work was heavy and physically demanding - and involved dangers the Curies did not appreciate. During this time they began to feel sick and physically exhausted; today we can attribute their ill-health to the early symptoms of radiation sickness. At the time they persevered in ignorance of the risks, often with raw and inflamed hands because they were continually handling highly radioactive material.

Of those years Paul Appell, president of the Academy of Paris, wrote as follows:

"M. and Mme. Curie, not being able to pursue their chemical experiments in a schoolroom which had been placed at their disposal, arranged for these in a sort of abandoned warehouse opposite their atelier. In this place, with its asphalt floor, its broken and patched glass roof, hot in summer, heated by a cast-iron stove in winter, they performed their wonderful work.

"The equipment consisted of some old and worn deal tables, upon which Mme. Curie prepared the material for the production of radium. She was laboratory chief assistant and handy boy at the same time. In addition to her intellectual labour for it her was to frequently necessary

perform severe manual toil. On many an afternoon she stirred in a great caldron with a heavy iron rod the molten mass of the radioactive products, reaching home at evening exhausted by fatigue but delighted to see that her labours had led to a luminous product of concentration."

The couple, in an unusual gesture, did not patent the radium-isolation process, with the aim of letting the scientific community do research in the field, totally unhindered. In 1903,

Marie received the first Nobel Prize of her life, in Physics, which she shared with Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel. With this, she became the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize. The same year, she received her Doctorate in Science from the University of Paris, under the supervision of Henri Becquerel. She became the first woman in France to complete a doctorate.

In 1902 Marie eventually isolated radium (as radium chloride), determining its atomic weight as 225.93. The journey to the discovery had been long and arduous.

In 1911, Marie received the second Nobel Prize of her life, this time in Chemistry. With this, she became the first person to win or share two Nobel Prizes. In fact, till date, she is one of only two people to be awarded a Nobel Prize in two different fields. To add to it, Marie is also the only woman to have won two Nobel Prizes and the only person to have won Nobel Prizes in two different science fields. She donated her and her husband's gold Nobel Prize medals for the war effort. After the war, Marie was finally able to turn her attention to the Radium Institute, but the world-class research facility that she envisioned would require more funding to become fully equipped. Convinced by an American journalist that Americans would be sympathetic to her cause, Marie agreed to make appearances in the United States in 1921. She was greeted by enthusiastic crowds. An impressive $100,000 was raised, enabling Marie to purchase the Radium needed for her research. A highlight of the trip was meeting President Warren Harding, who personally handed the radium to her. Thanks to Marie Curie's oversight and tireless fund-raising efforts, the institute grew in both size and status throughout the 1920s and beyond. On her second tour, she managed to garner enough funds to equip the Warsaw Radium Institute, which she founded in 1925, with her sister Bronisawa as director. In her later years, Marie headed the Pasteur

Institute, along with a radioactivity laboratory, which was created for her by the University Paris.

The Curie's research was crucial in the development of x-rays in surgery. During World War I, she encouraged the use of mobile radiography units, known as petites Curies ("Little Curies"), for the treatment of wounded soldiers. The International Red Cross made her head of its radiological service and she held training courses for medical orderlies and doctors in the new techniques.

Curie chose her teenage daughter Irne as her first assistant. For a year Irne worked by her mothers side. Like her mother, she refused to show emotion at the sight of the terrible wounds. Soon Curie allowed Irne to direct an X-ray station by herself. Meanwhile Marie thought of another way for radioactivity to help save soldiers Institute lives. she At the Radium glass prepared tiny

tubes containing a radioactive gas (radon) that comes from minerals containing radium. Hospital doctors inserted the tiny tubes into patients at spots where the radiation would destroy diseased tissue

Curie then tried to find other substances that were radioactive. As a result of this search, she found that thorium was also radioactive. However, credit for this discovery had already gone to a German scientist, Gerhard Schmidt. Several years passed, however, before the general public knew of radium. A watch-case containing a speck of the rare element was exhibited at the Paris Exposition in 1900. It was labelled, "Radium, discovered by Mme. Curie." In 1901 the French Academy of Sciences awarded the La Caze Prize of 10,000 francs to the Curies.



Marie Curie distinguished herself as one of the leading scientists of all time during an era when few women attended college and fewer still became scientists. With the help of her husband Pierre Curie, she discovered two new elements: polonium and radium. The Curies' study of radioactivity as well led as to the advances in the treatment of cancer development of nuclear power. Curies later writings make it perfectly clear that she made these discoveries and that they were not shared with her husband. In her biography of Pierre, written years after this discovery, Marie twice emphasised that they were her discoveries. She was influenced most certainly, back to the time she applied for a place as a student at Krakow University but was rejected because she was female. Marie almost certainly wanted these discoveries to be attached to a woman and not shared with a man, even if he was her husband.

In 1905, election took place for membership to French Academy of Sciences. Marie lost by just one vote, mainly because of the academys prejudice against women. In May 1906 she was appointed to head the laboratory that her late husband had run. Marie became the first women to be made a Professor at the Sorbonne. With her fame, she persuaded the French government into building the Radium Institute (now the Institut Curie). The centre concentrated its work on Chemistry, Physics and Medicine and it was to produce four more Nobel Prize winners.



She wrote a good deal, among her works being "Recherches sur les Proprietes Magnetiques des Aciers Trempes," "Recherches sur les Substances Radioactives," "L'Isotropie et les Elements Isotropes" and "Pierre Curie," the life and work of her husband. Her most celebrated work, however, which is regarded as a classic in scientific literature, was her "Traite de Radioactivite," which was published in 1910.

The frail little woman was overwhelmed by honours. She was feted and laudatory speeches were made everywhere she went. She received honorary university degrees from Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Woman's Medical University Pittsburgh, Wellesley, College, of Yale, North-

western and Smith.

President Murray presenting

Nicholas Butler, in the

Columbia award, said it honoured the woman "to whos might skill, and scientific

trained powers of imagination it has been given to enrich mankind by the priceless gift of radium, winning thereby a place on the immortal list of scientific discoverers."

Dr. William Lyon Phelps of Yale said: "There is one thing rarer than genius. That is radium. Mme. Curie illustrates the combination of both." 12

In 1922 Mme. Curie was elected a member of the Academy of Medicine in Paris, and the next year the French Government unanimously voted her an annual pension of 40,000 francs. That was on the occasion of the twentyfifth anniversary of the discovery of radium.

Mme. Curie was never eager to mix in political or social matters. She did, however, urge woman suffrage, and she advocated international scholarships in pure science.

Mme. Curie received an honorary degree from St. Lawrence University and dedicated Hepburn Hall of Chemistry there. She received the gold medal of the New York City Federation of Women's Clubs and many other marks of honor and esteem. As a guest of Henry Ford, Mme. Curie went to Dearborn, Mich., for the Edison jubilee.

An asteroid, 7000 Curie, bears her name. And Curium, the 96th element in the periodic table, is named in honour of both Marie and Pierre Curie. In addition she has been the inspiration for innumerable young scientists, and was of great influence on her peers including Albert Einstein.



Madam Curie is one of the most revered female physicists and is well known for her discovery of several radioactive metals including Radium and Polonium. Together with her husband, she studied the x-rays they emitted. She discovered that the harmful rays could kill tumours. Her popularity grew along with her discoveries and peaked by the end of the First World War. At that time, Madam Curie was one of the most famous names worldwide. The discovery of radium will easily be among the top 20th century inventions, and is arguably one of the inventions that changed the world forever. IGNORED URANIUM RAYS appealed to Marie Curie. Since she would not have a long bibliography of published papers to read, she could begin experimental work on them immediately. The director of the Paris Municipal School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry, where Pierre was professor of physics, permitted her to use a crowded, damp storeroom there as a lab. A clever technique was her key to success. About 15 years earlier, Pierre and his older brother, Jacques, had invented a new kind of electrometer, device for measuring extremely low electrical currents. Marie now put the Curie electrometer to use in measuring the faint currents that can pass through air that has been bombarded with uranium rays. The moist air in the storeroom tended to dissipate the electric charge, but she managed to make reproducible measurements.

Marie tested all the known elements in order to determine if other elements or minerals would make air conduct electricity better, or if uranium alone could do this. In this task she was assisted by a number of chemists who donated a variety of mineral samples, including some containing very rare elements. In April 1898 her research revealed that thorium compounds, like those of uranium, emit Becquerel rays. Again the emission appeared to be an atomic property. To describe the behaviour of 14

uranium and thorium she invented the word radioactivity --based on the Latin word for ray. She found that radiation can kill normal human cells. Based on the fact, she stated that it can be manipulated to treat cancer where it destroys the tumour cells. Even though the inventions of Marie Curie could have fetched her a fortune, she never tried to patent the inventions. Albert Einstein said, Marie Curie is, of all celebrated beings, the only one whom fame has not corrupted.



Curies research was not without problems, no one understood at the time Radiation Poisoning. Almost on a daily basis, Marie and Pierre worked in normal research clothing. Anything protective bordering clothing on was

unheard of them unless it involved avoiding chemical splashes on clothes.

In April 1906, Pierre Curie was killed in a street some accident. Later

thought he did not survive the accident because his body had been weakened as a result of his exposure to radiation. However, this has never been proved and it does seem that he died simply because in heavy rain, he slipped under the wheels of a horse-drawn carriage. His death was a devastating blow to Marie. However, it is generally accepted that her body, by the 1930s, was suffering the effects of radiation exposure. Her writings had commented on how pretty she had found the blue-green colours given off by the radioactive isotopes she frequently carried around in her pockets. When they were not in her pockets, she simply kept them in desk drawers. There was not any knowledge of the dangers then.

Marie Curie died on July 4th, 1934. The cause of death was Aplastic Anaemia. This her was probably caused by radiation of exposure. On are 16 investigating laboratory notebooks, traces radioactivity

discovered in the fingerprints that are all over the pages. Her books are still radioactive to this very day. She was 67 when she died. Her great life came to an end in 1934 after saving millions of human lives. As an honour, her mortal remains were moved to the dome of Pantheon in Paris later. In 1995, Marie and Pierre Curie were reburied in the Pantheon - the Paris mausoleum reserved for France's most revered dead - on the orders of French President M. Mitterand.

Marie Curie was the first woman to be awarded a place in the Pantheon for her own achievements.

Marie Curie's life as a scientist was one which flourished because of her ability to observe, deduce and predict. She is also arguably the first woman to make such a significant contribution to science.



One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.

We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity.

I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.

A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales.

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.

Humanity needs practical men, who get the most out of their work, and, without forgetting the general good, safeguard their own interests. But humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to


devote their care to their own material profit. Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research.

I have frequently been questioned, especially by women, of how I could reconcile family life with a scientific career. Well, it has not been easy.

We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.

I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy.

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.

I am one of those who think like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries.

There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth.

When one studies strongly radioactive substances special precautions must be taken. Dust, the air of the room, and one's clothes, all become radioactive.

After all, science is essentially international, and it is only through lack of the historical sense that national qualities have been attributed to it.





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