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Irne Joliot-Curie

Updated on May 12, 2013

Irene Joliot-Curie

French chemist, scientist, 1935 Nobel prize winner in Chemistry Irene Joliot-Curie (b.September 12, 1897 - d.17 March 1956) is the eldest daughter of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie and the wife of Frederic Joliot-Curie.

Irene Joliot-Curie was born September 12, 1897 in Paris. She is the eldest daughter of Pierre and Marie Curie. After having started her studies at the Faculty of Science in Paris, she served as a nurse radiographer during the First World War.

She became Doctor of Science in 1925, having prepared a thesis on the alpha rays of polonium. Either alone or in collaboration with her husband, she did important work on natural and artificial radioactivity, transmutation of elements, and nuclear physics; she shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 1935 with him, in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements, which work has been summarized in their joint paper Production artificielle d'lments radioactifs. Preuve chimique de la transmutation des lments (1934).

In 1938 her research on the action of neutrons on the heavy elements, was an important step in the discovery of uranium fission. Appointed lecturer in 1932, she became Professor in the Faculty of Science in Paris in 1937, and afterwards Director of the Radium Institute in 1946. Being a Commissioner for Atomic Energy for six years, Irne took part in its creation and in the construction of the first French atomic pile (1948). She was concerned in the inauguration of the large centre for nuclear physics at Orsay for which she worked out the plans. This centre was equipped with a synchro-cyclotron of 160 MeV, and its construction was continued after her death by F. Joliot.

She took a keen interest in the social and intellectual advancement of women; she was a member of the Comit National de l'Union des Femmes Franaises and of the World Peace Council. In 1936 Irne Joliot-Curie was appointed Undersecretary of State for Scientific Research. She was a member of several foreign academies and of numerous scientific societies, had honorary doctor's degrees of several universities, and was an Officer of the Legion of Honour. She died in Paris in March 17, 1956.

Jean Frdric and Irene Joliot-Curie had one daughter, Helene, and one son, Pierre.

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"I link myself more with human beings than with things; one can work anywhere...what gives interest in life in the lab are the people who animate it." - Irene Joliot-Curie

Irene Joliot-Curie Books on the Spotlight!

From Publishers Weekly...

The book fills a significant gap in the Curie bookshelf with this engaging book that follows five generations of the Sklodowska-Curie-Joliot family. Beginning before Marie Sklodowska and Pierre Curie meet, Brian details their courtship and 11-year marriage, bringing the reader to the Curie dinner table and into the converted garden shed (replete with a leaking roof) where the Curies' work on polonium and radium transformed physics and won them two Nobel prizes.

After Pierre's early death, Marie soldiered on for their children, Irene and Eve, and for their work, organizing X-ray equipment distribution during World War I and training numerous women to work at the Radium Institute. Irene, a nurse and wartime ambulance driver, began work in the laboratory with her mother after the war, later joining fellow assistant Frederic Joliot in a marital and career partnership similar to that of her parents'. Their joint Nobel came in 1935, a year after Marie's death. Eve, a journalist, wrote a best-selling biography of her mother and, during WWII, became a battlefield reporter.

The fifth generation of this extraordinary family, Helene and Pierre Joliot-Curie, became eminent scientists, and the scientific tradition continues into the sixth generation. Brian's book illuminates 100 years of scientific history in its political and social contexts through the lives of this remarkable family. Extremely well-done and highly recommended.

Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935

Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935
Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935

Radium Girls is a brilliant case study of the radium dial industry. But it is much more.


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