Introduction

Marie Curie, also known as Maria Salomea Skodowska, was born in Warsaw, Poland, on November 7, 1867.

She passed away on July 4, 1934. She is a Polish-born physicist most known for her work on radioactivity, for which she received the Nobel Prize twice.

Mare Curie is the daughter of a high school science teacher. Her father provided her with some scientific instruction as well as a general education at local schools.

Later she moved to Paris in 1891 to complete her studies at the Sorbonne. There she majored in Physics and Mathematical Sciences. In 1894, she met Pierre Curie, a Professor at the School of Physics, and the succeeding year,1895, they married.

She was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize, and she is the only woman to have received the honor in two distinct categories.

Her husband, Pierre Curie, was a co-winner on her first Nobel Prize, making them the first married couple to do so.

The discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in 1896 motivated the Curies’ remarkable investigation and analysis, which resulted in the separation of Polonium, called after Marie’s birth country Poland, and Radium.

She was highly honored as a physicist throughout her time and she held many noteworthy positions. Her work was published and appreciated by several journals and publications.

Atom Marie Curie Nobel Physics  - OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay
OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay

What happened during the early life of Marie Curie?

Maria started boarding school when she was ten years old.

Due to a lack of financial assistance, she spent the next years in the countryside with her father’s family, and then in Warsaw with her father, where she was¬†tutored.

She was unable to enroll in higher school in her own country since women were not permitted to do so in some parts of the world.

She enrolled at an institution called Flying University, where she strived to advance her career.

In late 1891, she left Poland and went to France

In Paris, she was able to live with her sister and brother-in-law, who had moved there a few years before.

She was able to continue her physics, chemistry, and mathematics studies at the University of Paris.

During this period, she met Pierre Curie, who shared her enthusiasm for natural sciences and laboratory work. They were seeking for a much larger laboratory in which to continue their studies in physics and chemistry. They married later that year, in 1895.

Discoveries and Nobel Prizes

Radiation and its initial discoveries were done by Professor Henri Becquerel. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences presented the Nobel Prize in Physics to Pierre Curie and Marie Curie and Henri Becquerel. It was done in 1903 in acknowledgment of the outstanding contributions they have provided by their combined studies on the radiation phenomena.

Since they did not have enough financial aids to expand their laboratory facilities, the money from the award enabled the Curies to recruit their first laboratory assistant.

Following these events Pierre Curie was appointed the professor and chair of physics at the University of Paris.

In response to Pierre Curie’s requests, the University of Paris arranged to build a new laboratory so that the Curies can carry on their work on radiation related studies.

Thereafter he continued his work in fields of physics as well as chemistry.

Pierre Curie died in an accident in 1906. Following this tragic event Marie Curie was shocked by the loss of her spouse.

Later the University of Paris’s physics department chose to keep the chair established for her late husband and offer it to Marie which she accepted, aiming to build a world-class laboratory as a memorial to her late husband, Pierre Curie.

She was the first woman to be appointed to the faculty of the University of Paris.

Einstein Physicist Conference  - WikiImages / Pixabay
WikiImages / Pixabay

Curie succeeded in isolating radium in 1910. Later she established an international standard for radioactive emissions, which was later named after her and her husband Pierre.

Widespread fame for her work had reached by time. She was awarded with the Nobel prize for the second time in 1911 for her contribution to the progress in chemistry by the discovery of elements radium and polonium and studying their properties.

Later Life and How did Marie Curie die?

During the World War I she rendered a great service to her country by utilizing her knowledge and coming up with newer solutions to overcome the crisis situation she and her country had to deal with. She identified that traumatized soldiers could survive if they can be surgically treated as soon as possible.

For the combat surgeons to come up with quick decisions in related to war injuries, radiology was needed very much. But at that time radiological studies were not frequently available. Radiological centers should be accessible for front line soldiers and surgeons for better outcome of traumatized soldiers.

She tried her best to solve this problem and focused on further studying anatomy, radiology as well as car mechanics to come up with a solution. She made portable Xray units known as petite Curies. She made several portable radiology units that aided the surgeons in the war field.

Sometime later she became the director of the Red Cross Radiology Service in France.

In the first year of the war, Marie Curie helped to build and distribute 20 mobile radiological vehicles and several other radiological units.

The harmful consequences of ionizing radiation were not studied at the time of her carrier.

Those studies were carried on later and nowadays there are strict rules and regulations regarding the handling of radioactive elements.

Celebrity Forest Einstein  - TOZ969 / Pixabay
TOZ969 / Pixabay

Marie Curie, since she was unaware of the harmful effects of radiation, carried radioactive elements in her pocket and she had stored them in her desk drawers.

She died on July 4, 1934, at the age of 66, of aplastic anemia. It was caused by her long-term radiation exposure, which damaged her bone marrow.

Even after death her body is still known to be radioactive. Her scientific documents and even her cookbooks are still radioactive. Her scientific writings are stored in lead protected boxes so that it prevents leaking of radiation. In order to read her papers, the scientists have to wear protective clothing.

Share this post
About Author

Science A Plus