Marie Curie

Marie Curie was born Marie Sklodowska in Warsaw, Poland in 1867. She was the fifth and youngest child of her family. Curie was educated as a chemist and physicist. Marie Curie is known as a pioneer in the field of radioactivity research. She is the first female to win the Nobel Prize.

Early Life

Marie Curie’s father taught mathematics and physics. Russians authorities decided to end laboratory instruction in Polish schools. Curie’s father took the laboratory equipment to his home. There he taught his children how to use the equipment. Marie Curie’s mother ran a boarding school for girls in Warsaw. She died of tuberculosis when Marie was ten years old. Curie’s father was an atheist, and her mother was a devout Catholic.

Education

Marie Curie received a gold medal from a gymnasium for girls when she was sixteen. Curie was unable to seek higher education from traditional institutions because she was a female. She and her sister decided to attend a Flying University. This was a secret Polish patriotic institution that held underground, informal classes in secret. Marie Curie attended the Sorbonne in Paris, a public research university. In 1893, Curie earned a master’s degree in physics. The following year she would earn another degree in mathematics. Marie Curie was also awarded a doctorate from the University of Paris in 1903.

Family Life

Marie Curie was awarded a commission to study the magnetic properties with various types of steel from the Society for the Encouragement of National Industry. She needed a laboratory to do her work. A colleague introduced her to Pierre Curie who was a well-known physicist. The two became romantically involved. They soon became known as a powerful couple in the scientific community. Marie Sklodowska married Pierre Curie on July 26, 1895. The couple had two daughters named Eve and Irene. Marie Curie’s husband Pierre Curie died in 1906 after being hit by a horse-drawn vehicle.

Research

In 1898, Marie Curie and her husband published a paper together that announced the existence of an element they called polonium. In that same year, they announced the discovery of another element they called radium. During their research, they began using the term radioactivity. Marie Curie used an electrometer to determine that uranium rays make the air around it conduct electricity. She was able to determine that the level of electricity depended on the amount of uranium compounds present.

Nobel Prizes

In 1903, Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. This made Curie the first woman in the history to receive a Nobel Prize. She was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. This was done as a way to recognize her study of the natural compounds associated with the elements radium and polonium. This Nobel Prize made Marie Curie only the second person and first female to receive a Nobel Prize in two different fields of study.

Death

Marie Curie died in Sancellemoz Sanatorium in France on July 4, 1934. Her cause of death was aplastic anemia. This condition is believed to have resulted from her prolonged exposure to radiation.

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