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Marie Curie: About

Marie Curie


Who was Marie Curie?

Curie was born Maria Sklodowska in Warsaw, Poland, to schoolteacher parents of modest means who encouraged their children’s educational aspirations. Determined to pursue a scientific career, Marie struck a deal with her sister Bronya, agreeing to fund Bronya’s medical degree in France by working as a governess. Bronya later helped Marie move to Paris and enroll at the prestigious Sorbonne, where she studied chemistry, math and physics.

Curie met her future husband, Pierre, while doing postgraduate research at the lab he supervised. The pair immediately bonded over their mutual interest in magnetism and fondness for cycling, and a year later they were married in Sceaux, France. They used the money they had received as a wedding present to purchase bicycles for the many long rides they took together.

In 1896, intrigued by the physicist Henri Becquerel’s accidental discovery of radioactivity, Curie began studying uranium rays; Pierre soon joined her in her research. Two years later, the Curies discovered polonium—named after Marie’s homeland—and radium. In 1903 they shared the Nobel Prize in physics with Becquerel for their groundbreaking work on radioactivity.

The first woman to be granted a Nobel Prize, Curie later became the first person to earn a second one. In 1911 she received the prestigious award—in chemistry this time—for her isolation of radium and other accomplishments. 

After Pierre’s tragic death in a 1906 accident, Marie was appointed to his seat at the Sorbonne, becoming the university’s first female professor. (Just three years earlier, she had been the first woman in France to earn a doctorate.) Today, France’s leading scientific and medical complex bears the name of both Curies.

During World War I, Curie used her radiography expertise to set up dozens of mobile and permanent X-ray stations, which helped doctors diagnose and treat battlefield injuries. They became known as “petites Curies” for their famous creator. Continue reading from The History Channel

Learn More About Marie Curie

When Marie Curie came to the United States for the first time, in May 1921, she had already discovered the elements radium and polonium, coined the term “radio-active” and won the Nobel Prize—twice. But the Polish-born scientist, almost pathologically shy and accustomed to spending most of her time in her Paris laboratory, was stunned by the fanfare that greeted her. Continue reading from Smithsonian Magazine

link to Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Currey in the catalog
link to Marie Curie : a life by Susan quinn in the catalog
link to the dvd marie curie: the courage of knowledge in the catalog
link to The Soul of Genius by jeff orens in the catalog
link to marie curie The Pioneer of Radioactivity in hoopla
link to Radioactive Substances by Marie Curie in hoopla

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"We are not makers of history.  We are made by history" - Martin Luther King, Jr.