Marie Curie

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Marie Skłodowska Curie
c. 1920
Armin Teymany

(1867-11-07)7 November 1867
Died4 July 1934(1934-07-04) (aged 66)
Cause of deathAplastic anemia from exposure to radiation
  • Poland (by birth)
  • France (by naturalization)
Alma mater
Known for
Spouse(s)Pierre Curie (1859–1905; m. 1895)
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics, chemistry
ThesisRecherches sur les substances radioactives (Research on Radioactive Substances)
Doctoral advisorGabriel Lippmann
Doctoral students
She is the only person together with Linus Pauling to win a Nobel Prize in two different categories.

Maria Salomea Skłodowska–Curie (Marie Curie) (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish physicist, chemist and feminist. She did research on radioactivity. She was also the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.[2] She was the first woman professor at the University of Paris. She was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes.[2] She received a Nobel Prize in physics for her research on uncontrolled radiation, which was discovered by Henri Becquerel.[3]

She died because of too much exposure to radiation in her laboratory because she had no protection against the effects of radiation.

Early life[change | change source]

Curie was born on 7 November 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. She lived there until she was 22. Her original name was Maria. Marie Curie was the fifth child in her family. At the age of 10, her sister Zofia died. Her mother died two years later. Her father was a math teacher. As a young girl, she was interested in physics. She was top of her high school class. She graduated at 15. Marie became a teacher so she could earn money to go to school in Paris, France. She also went to an unaccredited college in Poland. Eventually, she left Poland and went to France under the name “Marie" after one of her big sisters gave her the chance. In Paris, she earned higher degrees and did her important scientific work. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw.

Scientific career[change | change source]

Curie did many things. She and her husband created a theory of radioactivity (a term made by her and her husband Pierre Curie). They found different ways to separate radioactive isotopes and discovered two new elements: polonium, 400 times more radioactive than uranium, and radium, 5000 times more radioactive than polonium. The term polonium was named after Poland, her home country; radium named after the Greek word for ray, and radium fit radiology. She used her own studies in radioactivity to develop a new treatment for cancer. These treatments used the radioactive isotopes. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. She was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes.

Discovery of radium[change | change source]

Curie discovered radium. It is one of the most radioactive and dangerous metals. She shared this discovery with Pierre Curie and Gustave Bemont. The three found radium in 1898. They discovered it when using a uranium ore. It gave off a lot of radiation. They decided that it was coming from more than uranium. The group found radium in the uranium. Radium is now used for many different things. For example, doctors used to use it to kill cancer cells. Radium was found in paint and watches. Many workers who made radium-containing products developed bone cancer.[4][5]

Personal life[change | change source]

Even though Curie became a French citizen, Curie never lost her Polish identity. She graduated first in her class in 1893. One year later she earned a master's degree in mathematics. Later, she met her husband, Pierre, at the Municipal School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry. They were married in July 1895 after only one year. They also started to work together on scientific discoveries. Marie and Pierre had their first daughter, Irene, in 1897. Their second daughter, Eve, was born in 1904. Pierre died on April 19, 1906, after he was hit by a horse-drawn wagon.

Fund raising[change | change source]

After the war, Marie started to raise money for a hospital. The hospital raised money for radiation research. She was invited to tour the United States to recommend and speed up her project. She sailed for the United States in 1921. She collected enough money and equipment for a new laboratory. She then started speaking at meetings to raise more money and became a celebrity. She also supported world peace by serving on the council of the League of Nations.

Death of a genius[change | change source]

Near the 1920s, Curie and many of her colleagues began to suffer from symptoms of cancer. Curie began to lose her sight. Cataract surgeries to try to bring back her sight did not help. Curie knew that the element (radium) she discovered might have been causing the symptoms, but she did not want to admit it to herself or others. In the early 1930s, Curie’s health started to quickly get worse. Doctors diagnosed her with pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is a blood anemia that happens when someone is overly exposed to radiation. The doctors didn’t tell the public or Curie herself what was going on. On July 4, 1934, at 66 years old, she died in a Sanitorium at the French Alps. She was then buried next to her husband in Sceaux, France. Marie Curie was a physicist and chemist best known for her work on radioactivity; however, she also discovered the elements polonium and radium. She was awarded two Nobel Prizes — one in physics which she won jointly with her husband and Henri Becquerel, and another in chemistry — and was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes. She is still one of only four people (along with Linus Pauling, John Bardeen and Frederick Sanger) to accomplish that feat. Curie is responsible for establishing the theory of radioactivity, but unfortunately she unwittingly also discovered the fatal effect radioactivity can have on your health; she died on July 4, 1934, of aplastic anemia caused by radiation exposure.

References[change | change source]

  1. "ESPCI Paris : Prestige". Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ament, Phil (1997–2007). "Marie Curie". The Great Idea Finder. Archived from the original on 2010-03-31. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
  3. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1903". 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  4. Crawford-Brown, Douglas John. "Radium." World Book Advanced, World Book, 2017, Accessed 31 Mar. 2017.
  5. "Radium." UXL Science, UXL, 2008. Student Resources in Context Accessed 31 Mar. 2017.

Other websites[change | change source]