Biography of Marie Curie

Nobel Laureate Maria Curie was a physicist and chemist, known throughout the world for her work with radiation.

Childhood and early years

Maria Sklodowska was the youngest of five children of Bronislava and Vladislav Sklodowski. Both her parents were teachers.

From an early age, the girl went in the footsteps of her father, keenly interested in mathematics and physics. After receiving primary education at the school of J. Sikorska, Maria enters the women’s gymnasium, which in 1883 graduates with a gold medal. Admission to the men’s University of Warsaw she was ordered, and therefore she only will agree to the post of a teacher at the University of Volksh. However, to part with the dream of obtaining a coveted academic degree, Maria is in no hurry, and concludes with her older sister Bronislava a deal that she will first support her sister, for which the sister will later help her.

Maria undertakes any work, becomes a private tutor and governess

to earn money for her sister to study. And at the same time she is engaged in self-education, eagerly reading books and scientific works. She also starts her own scientific practice in the chemical laboratory.

In 1891 Maria moved to France, where she entered the Sorbonne University in Paris. There her name is transformed into the French name of Marie. In view of the fact that she could not wait for financial support, the girl, trying to earn her living, gives private lessons in the evenings.

In 1893, Mr.. she received a master’s degree in physics, and the next year – and a master of mathematics. His scientific works Mary begins with the study of various types of steel and their magnetic properties.

The search for a larger laboratory leads her to an acquaintance with Pierre Curie, at that time – a teacher at the School of Physics and Chemistry. He will help the girl find a suitable place for research.

Maria is making several attempts to return to Poland and continue her scientific activities in her homeland, but she is denied this responsibility, simply because she is a woman.

Eventually, she returns to Paris to obtain a Ph. D.

Scientific activity

In 1896, the discovery of Henry Becquerel on the ability of uranium salts to radiation inspires Maria Curie to new, deeper studies of this issue. By using an electrometer, she discovers that the emitted rays remain unchanged, regardless of the state or species of uranium.

After a more thorough study of this phenomenon, Curie discovers that the rays come from the atomic structure of the element, and are not the result of the interaction of molecules. It is this revolutionary discovery that will be the beginning of atomic physics.

Since only the family could not exist to earn money from research activities, Maria Curie undertakes teaching at the Higher Normal School. But, at the same time, it continues to work with two samples of uranium minerals, uraninite and torburnite.

Interested in her research, Pierre Curie in 1898 throws his own work with crystals and joins Mary. Together they begin to search for substances that can radiate radiation.

In 1898, working with uraninite, they discover a new radioactive element, which is called “polonium,” in honor of Mary’s homeland. All in the same year, they will open one more element, which will be called “radium”. Then they will introduce the term “radioactivity”.

To ensure that there is no shadow of doubt in the authenticity of their discovery, Pierre and Maria are mistaken for a desperate enterprise – to get polonium and radium from pure uranium from uraninite. And, in 1902, they manage to isolate radium salts by the method of fractional crystallization.

In the same period, from 1898 to 1902, Pierre and Maria publish at least 32 articles, which describe in detail the process of their work with radioactivity. In one of these articles, they argue that cells affected by tumors are destroyed by radiation more quickly than healthy cells.

In 1903, Maria Curie received a doctorate from the University of Paris. In the same year, Pierre and Marie Curie are awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, which they will receive only in 1905.

In 1906, after Pierre’s death, Mary was offered the place of the head of the physics department, formerly occupied by her deceased husband, and a professor at the Sorbonne, which she willingly agrees, intending to create a world-class scientific laboratory.

In 1910 Maria Curie successfully receives an element of radium and defines the international unit of measurement of radioactive radiation, which will later be called in her honor – curie.

In 1911, she again became the Nobel Prize laureate, this time in the field of chemistry.

International recognition, along with the support of the French government, helps Sklodowska-Curie establish in Paris the Radium Institute, an institution aimed at conducting research in the fields of physics, chemistry and medicine.

During the First World War, Marie Curie opens a radiological center to help military doctors in the care of wounded soldiers. Twenty mobile radiological laboratories are assembled under her supervision, and 200 more radiological units are placed in field hospitals. Judging by the available evidence, with the help of her X-ray machines, more than a million wounded patients were examined.

After the war she will publish the book “Radiology in the War”, in which she will describe her wartime experience in details.

Over the following years, Marie Curie travels to various countries in search of the means necessary to continue research on the properties of radium.

In 1922 she became a member of the French Academy of Medicine. Maria is also elected a member of the International Commission on Intellectual Cooperation under the League of Nations.

In 1930 Maria Sklodowska-Curie became an honorary member of the International Committee of Atomic Weights.

Basic work

Marie Curie – in addition to the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium, as well as the isolation of radioactive isotopes – the introduction of the term “radioactivity” and the formulation of the theory of radioactivity.

Awards and achievements

In 1903, for outstanding services in joint research, the phenomenon of radioactivity discovered by Professor Henry Becquerel, Marie Curie, together with her husband Pierre Curie, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

In 1911 Maria again becomes the Nobel Prize laureate, this time in the field of chemistry, for the discovery of elements of radium and polonium, for the isolation of radium in pure form, and also for studying the nature and properties of this remarkable element.

In her honor will be called buildings, institutions, universities, public places, streets and museums, and her life and works will be described in works of art, books, biographies and films.

Personal life and heritage

The future husband, Pierre Curie, Maria was introduced by the Polish physicist, Professor Jozef Kowalski-Verusz. Mutual sympathy arises instantly, because both were embraced by a common passion for science. Pierre invites Maria to marry him, but receives a refusal. Not despairing, Pierre again asks for her hands, and on July 26, 1895, they are married by marriage. Two years later, their union was blessed with the birth of daughter Irene. In 1904, their second daughter Eve was born.

Maria Sklodowska-Curie, who suffered from prolonged exposure to radiation with hypoplastic anemia, died on July 4, 1934, at Sanselmoz sanatorium in Passy, ​​in the department of Haute Savoie. They buried her near Pierre in the French commune of So.

However, in sixty years their remains will be transferred to the Parisian Pantheon.

Interesting Facts

Maria Curie became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and the only woman to receive this prestigious award in the dissimilar areas of two different sciences. Thanks to Mary, the term “radioactivity” appeared in science.

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Biography of Marie Curie