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MARIE CURIE - Draw My Life

Ten years later Einsten would correctly identify the phenomenon at work here- the rocks were converting mass into energy very efficiently. The nucleus of the unstable atom of the uranium crystal was losing energy by emitting particles of ionized radiation. Though Madame Curie was not privy to this fact in , she knew she had stumble onto something infinitely priceless. Marie Sklodowska had recently emigrated from Poland and had been married for less than a year to Pierre Curie when this fateful incident occurred.

They also decided to investigate what other matter exhibited this activity, zeroing in on Thorium. While comparing the properties of pure uranium with that of uranium ore, they discovered that the latter sample exhibited significantly more radiation than the former. The mineral pitchblende was emitting stronger rays than pure uranium only because it contained highly reactive unknown substances.

This led her to discover two radioactive elements. One she named Polonium after her native homeland, the other was christened Radium. It is ironic that she chose to honour her homeland thus, because the very reason she chose to come to France is because she was denied every opportunity to follow her passion for science in Poland. In , after earning prestigious degrees, she returned to Warsaw to contemplate her chances there.

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Marie Curie: Mother of Modern Physics, Researcher of Radioactivity

But when she was denied a place at the University of Krakow because she was a woman, she returned to France permanently and embarked on one of the most illustrious careers in the history of science. In Madame Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize when she shared one half of the award in physics for the discovery of radioactivity with her husband Pierre.

In she published her fundamental treatise on Radioactivity. The other half was awarded to Henry Becquerel. In she multiplied her earlier feat by being the sole winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery of Polonium and Radium, thus becoming the only person to be awarded the elusive medal in multiple sciences. However, even after two Nobels under her belt, she was denied many an honours simply for being a woman.

Early life

These went to men who were significantly less qualified than her. Case in point is when she was defeated by a mere two votes to succeed the position left vacant by Gernez in the French Academy of Sciences. The work was heavy and physically demanding — and involved dangers the Curies did not appreciate. During this time they began to feel sick and physically exhausted; today we can attribute their ill-health to the early symptoms of radiation sickness.

Marie Curie: Facts About The Pioneering Chemist - HISTORY

At the time they persevered in ignorance of the risks, often with raw and inflamed hands because they were continually handling highly radioactive material. In Marie eventually isolated radium as radium chloride , determining its atomic weight as The journey to the discovery had been long and arduous. In Marie and Pierre were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics jointly with Henri Becquerel for their combined, though separate, work on radioactivity.

In Marie's life was struck by tragedy when Pierre was killed in a street accident after being knocked down by a horse and cart. Her indomitable spirit, however, kept her working and she went on to succeed him in his Chair as Professor at Sorbonne, as well as carrying on lecturing where he had left off. Her determination and remarkable endeavours led to a second Nobel Prize in , this time in chemistry for creating a means of measuring radioactivity. Not long after, Sorbonne built the first radium institute with two laboratories; one for study of radioactivity under Marie Curie's direction, and the other for biological research into the treatment of cancer.

During the First World War, Marie Curie worked to develop small, mobile X-ray units that could be used to diagnose injuries near the battlefront. As Director of the Red Cross Radiological Service, she toured Paris, asking for money, supplies and vehicles which could be converted.

Marie Curie (1867 - 1934)

In October , the first machines, known as "Petits Curies", were ready, and Marie set off to the front. She worked with her daughter Irene, then aged 17, at casualty clearing stations close to the front line, X-raying wounded men to locate fractures, bullets and shrapnel. The technology Marie Curie developed for the "Petits Curies" is similar to that used today in the fluoroscopy machine at our Hampstead hospice. A powerful X-ray machine, it allows doctors to examine moving images in the body, such as pumping action of the heart or the motion of swallowing. After the war, Marie continued her work as a researcher, teacher and head of a laboratory and received many awards and prizes.

She was also the recipient of many honorary degrees from universities around the world.


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A successful name in the field of science, Marie Curie allowed her name to be used by the Marie Curie Hospital in north London. Opened in , it was staffed entirely by women to treat female cancer patients using radiology. It also had research facilities.

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Now, in the 21 st century, Marie Curie is a major UK charity for people living with any terminal illness, not just cancer, and their families. We offer expert care, guidance and support to help them get the most from the time they have left. Marie Curie's inspiring achievements and attitudes still inform our charity's mission. By the s she had developed muscle aches, anemia, cataracts and a host of other symptoms.

Radium and polonium

She died on July 4, , of leukemia caused by exposure to radiation. She became the second woman to receive this honor and the first to earn it through her own achievements. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.


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