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Marie Sklodowska Curie

Updated on January 5, 2013

Marie Curie, the First Woman Scientist in Radioactivity

French-Polish nobel prize winner in two different sciences, physicist, inventor and chemist Marie Sklodowska Curie (b. November 7, 1867 - d. July 4, 1934) performed a pioneering study in radioactivity when she made a breakthrough discovering two new elements radium and polonium, techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, including the theory in radioactivity which is first coined by her and his husband Pierre Curie.

Marie Sklodowska Curie, was born in November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, the fifth and youngest child of Bronislawa Boguska, a pianist, singer, and teacher, and Wladyslaw Sklodowski, a professor of mathematics and physics.

When she was little and living in Poland, her nickname was Manya. From childhood she was remarkable for her prodigious memory, and at the age of 16 she won a gold medal on completion of her secondary education at the Russian lyce. Because her father, a teacher of mathematics and physics, lost his savings through bad investment, she had to take work as a teacher and, at the same time, took part clandestinely in the nationalist free university, reading in Polish to women workers. At the age of 18 she took a post as governess, where she suffered an unhappy love affair. From her earnings she was able to finance her sister Bronia's medical studies in Paris, on the understanding that Bronia would in turn later help her to get an education.

Maria Sklodowska is daughter of a Polish freethinker but reared by a Catholic mother. She abandoned the Church before she was 20 and her marriage with Pierre Curie was a purely ci>vil ceremony because she says in her memoir of him, Pierre belonged to no religion and I did not practice any.

It marked the start of a partnership that was soon to achieve results of world significance, in particular the discovery of polonium (so called by Maria in honour of Poland) in the summer of 1898, and that of radium a few months later. Following Henri Becquerel's discovery (1896) of a new phenomenon (which she later called "radioactivity"), Maria Curie, looking for a subject for a thesis, decided to find out if the property discovered in uranium was to be found in other matter. She discovered that this was true for thorium at the same time as G.C. Schmidt did.

Turning to minerals, her attention was drawn to pitchblende, a mineral whose activity, superior to that of pure uranium, could only be explained by the presence in the ore of small quantities of an unknown substance of very high activity. Pierre Curie then joined her in the work that she had undertaken to resolve this problem and that led to the discovery of the new elements, polonium and radium. While Pierre Curie devoted himself chiefly to the physical study of the new radiations, Maria Curie struggled to obtain pure radium in the metallic state--achieved with the help of the chemist A. Debierne, one of Pierre Curie's pupils. On the results of this research Maria Curie received her doctorate of science in June 1903 and, with Pierre, was awarded the Davy Medal of the Royal Society. Also in 1903 they shared with Becquerel the Nobel Prize for Physics for the discovery of radioactivity.

Pierre's death. On April 19, 1906, Pierre was killed in a street accident. Walking across the Rue Dauphine in heavy rain, he was struck by a horse-drawn vehicle and fell under its wheels, fracturing his skull. While it has been speculated that he may previously have been weakened by prolonged radiation exposure, it has not been proven that this was the cause of the accident.

Sklodowska-Curie visited Poland a last time in the spring of 1934. Only a couple of months later, she was dead. Her death on July 4, 1934, at the Sancellemoz Sanatorium in Passy, in Haute-Savoie, eastern France, was from aplastic anemia, almost certainly contracted from exposure to radiation. The damaging effects of ionizing radiation were then not yet known, and much of her work had been carried out in a shed without any safety measures. She had carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket and stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the pretty blue-green light that the substances gave off in the dark.

She was interred at the cemetery in Sceaux, alongside her husband Pierre. Sixty years later, in 1995, in honor of their achievements, the remains of both were transferred to the Paris Panthon. She became the first woman so honored.

Her laboratory is preserved at the Muse Curie.

(read more Wikipedia, Science in Poland -Maria Sklodowska-Curie )

Quotes from Marie Curie

  • 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, at whatever cost, must be attained.
  • There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth.
  • 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.
  • Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
  • 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.

Marie Curie Art

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Marie Curie Books on The Spotlight!

From Publisher's Weekly Reviews

Nuclear weapons have been an immutable aspect of the world for the past 60 years. The story of how they came to be, and the race between the Allied and Axis nations to be the first to harness the destructive power of the atom, is wonderfully told by British historian Preston (A First Rate Tragedy; Lusitania; etc.). She weaves together history, physics, politics and military strategies to convey both the monumental scientific achievement the bomb represented and, at the same time, the ethical and humanitarian implications of creating such a wild power. Preston is an impeccable researcher with a gift for choosing small details that illuminate and humanize the bomb's world-changing effects. She quotes a doctor in Hiroshima saying the mass of burned flesh around him smelled like "dried squid when it is grilled--the squid we like so much to eat"; elsewhere, Preston relates that the potential explosive effect of a chain-reaction atomic bomb was first calculated on the back of a napkin. This is a story with a reservoir of events heroic and horrible and a fabulous cast of characters that includes scientists Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller and Hans Bethe, and world leaders Roosevelt, Churchill, Truman, Stalin, Emperor Hirohito and Hitler. Preston presents each with rare insight and expertise. But her rarer achievement is to capture not only the work of making the bomb with its myriad ramifications for humankind, but also the ineffably human qualities--curiosity, ambition, fear, patriotism--that animated the participants in the great drama.

Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium

Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium
Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium

Reader's Review

The biography for children is rarely done well, if at all. It's too easy to take the life of someone famous, slap a few facts together, and then sell copies of your newest creation to countless school libraries around the country. When it comes to bios for small fry there are two modes of thought. Either you're going to do the least interesting, simplest biography (thereby boring both your child reader and yourself), or you're going to put some work into your creation and place the subject of your biography within the context of their times.

 

Who's Afraid of Marie Curie?: The Challenges Facing Women in Science and Technology - by Linley Erin Hall (Author)

Who's Afraid of Marie Curie?: The Challenges Facing Women in Science and Technology
Who's Afraid of Marie Curie?: The Challenges Facing Women in Science and Technology

Product Description

Who’s Afraid of Marie Curie? weaves together research and women’s personal stories, presenting both the challenges and triumphs women experience in the sciences. Author Linley Erin Hall has interviewed more than one hundred women, including students of all ages, to uncover what sparked their interest in science, what they’ve experienced in their careers, and, in some cases, why they decided to leave their field. Her findings are that change is happening, but some women are being left behind while others shoot ahead. Written in accessible language rather than scholarly jargon, Who’s Afraid of Marie Curie? explores the complexity behind the sound bites to present a real picture of women in science and technology.

 

Marie Curie- More Than Meets The Eye

Marie Curie's Discoveries | Invention

Marie Curie was the first woman scientist who ever made a lot of breakthrough in the field of chemistry and physics together with husband and fellow Nobel prize winner Pierre Curie.

*Following Henri Becquerel's discovery (1896) of a new phenomenon (which she later called "radioactivity"), Marie Curie, looking for a subject for a thesis, decided to find out if the property discovered in uranium was to be found in other matter. She discovered that this was true for thorium at the same time as G.C. Schmidt did.

Turning to minerals, her attention was drawn to pitchblende, a mineral whose activity, superior to that of pure uranium, could only be explained by the presence in the ore of small quantities of an unknown substance of very high activity.

Pierre Curie then joined her in the work that she had undertaken to resolve this problem and that led to the discovery of the new elements, polonium and radium. While Pierre Curie devoted himself chiefly to the physical study of the new radiations, Marie Curie struggled to obtain pure radium in the metallic state--achieved with the help of the chemist A. Debierne, one of Pierre Curie's pupils.

One of Marie Curie's outstanding achievements was to have understood the need to accumulate intense radioactive sources, not only for the treatment of illness but also to maintain an abundant supply for research in nuclear physics; the resultant stockpile was an unrivaled instrument until the appearance after 1930 of particle accelerators.

Her contribution to physics had been immense, not only in her own work, the importance of which had been demonstrated by the award to her of two Nobel Prizes, but because of her influence on subsequent generations of nuclear physicists and chemists.

Source

Radioactivity

Radioactivity
Radioactivity

Marie Curie's Distinguish Honors and Accolades

Noted as being 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.
  • 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.

    Source

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Marie Curie with her two daughters Irene and Eve

Marie Curie with her two daughters Irene and Eve
Marie Curie with her two daughters Irene and Eve

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      A very find tribute to Marie Curie. I love her quotes!

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 5 years ago

      Love this lens. Am inspired by Marie Curie in life. Your lens is most valuble. I just did lens on "Physics lesson plan". Love your lens topic. I voted "Like' for this one !

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 6 years ago

      Very informative lens! Blessed by the Science neighborhood Squid Angel!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      As a big fan of science I really enjoyed reading this lens!