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Marie Curie

Marie Curie committed her life to hard work and to innovation in the field of science. Despite having lived a life of hardship and great personal loss, Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and then became the first woman to win two Nobel Prizes.

Marie Curie
Marie Curie

Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867, Curie received science instruction from her father, a secondary-school teacher. Curie left Poland to study at the Sorbonne in Paris where she specialized in Physics and the Mathematical Sciences.

In 1895, she found a man who shared her passion for science. She married Pierre Curie, a physics professor who taught where she studied. Inspired by the work of Henri Becquerel, who discovered radioactivity in 1896, Curie, alongside her husband Pierre, delved deeper into radioactivity.

Their research and analyses led to the development of methods for isolating polonium and radium. In 1898, Pierre and Marie Curie announced their discovery. This work serves as the foundation for much of what we know today about nuclear physics and chemistry. This innovation led to her and her husband earning one-half of the 1903 Nobel Prize, with Becquerel receiving the other half.

Curie's life was not easy. She lost her oldest sister to sickness before age eleven. When she was twelve, she lost her mother to tuberculosis. Throughout her early career, she worked in very poor conditions. When not working on her research, Curie spent many hours teaching to support her family. She and husband Pierre had two daughters, Irene and Eve. In 1906, Pierre Curie, was killed in a street accident.

Marie Curie didn't let misfortune or even tragedy stop her from the work she was meant to do. Her work ethic and dedication earned her a Doctor of Science degree. She succeeded her husband as Head of the Physics Laboratory at the Sorbonne in Paris, and even took his place as a physics professor. She was the first woman to hold such a position. Later, she would become Director of the Curie Laboratory in the Radium Institute of the newly founded University of Paris.

Madam Curie
In 1911, Madam Curie received a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work in radioactivity. Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, is the only woman to win in two fields, and is the only person to win in multiple sciences.

Her work was published and celebrated, and she achieved recognition and acclaim amongst her peers. In 1929, President Hoover awarded her with enough money to buy radium to use in her laboratory. Despite the fame and the awards, and perhaps because she had seen so much suffering throughout her life, Curie actively worked to find uses for radium to ease illnesses.

In 1934, following a brief illness, Curie died in France. Her hard work and her momentum, even in the face of tragedy and great loss, earned her a legacy in the world of science forever securing her a place as one of the most famous women in history.

There is a secret you don't know …

Besides the factual Marie Curie biography presented above that presents the famous female scientist as a tragic figure, the fact is she did like to have fun every once in a blue moon. For instance, Marie Curie was known to throw down a mean Hokey Pokey at the local Kiwanis Club and she was the first person in history to give a moose a Barium enema.


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