Women You Should Know – Marie Curie

Marie Curie was born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867 as Maria Sklodowska. The premature death of her mother and one of her sisters is said to have caused her to become agnostic. This agnosticism would later encourage her faith in the sciences. Marie was a brilliant student with an unwavering focus. She secretly dreamed of becoming a scientist, however this was considered unattainable for women during this era. Marie pursued studies and received degrees in both physics (1893) and mathematics (1894). Shortly thereafter, she met and married Pierre Curie. Pierre worked along side his wife sharing her interest in physics. The Curies’ determination and tenacity resulted in the discovery of radium that paved the way for nuclear physics. Radioactivity is also renowned as the starting point for cancer treatment. As a result, Marie was able to fulfill her real desire of easing human suffering. Together with Henri Becquerel and her husband Pierre, Marie was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903. Pierre died in 1906 as a result of a tragic carriage accident. Marie continued her research and in 1911 received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work in radioactivity. Marie’s daughter Irene shared her parents’ love for science. Irene, along with her husband Frederic Joliot, discovered artificial radioactivity and were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935. Marie Curie died of leukemia in July 1934. Her illness was likely accelerated by her exposure to radiation.

Source for additional information
Marie Sklodowska Curie: The Woman Who Opened The Nuclear Age. 21st Century. http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/wint02-03/MarieSklodowskaCurie.html

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