Marie Curie: biography of this pioneering researcher in radioactivity

It is impossible to train in both the physical and chemical sciences and not know Marie Curie.

This researcher was one of the best known scientists, especially in the study of radioactivity. Together with her husband Piere, she made important discoveries such as the radio and poloni elements.

His work was recognized by two Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry, and his contributions were not limited to these two fields, because during World War I he collaborated with doctors and nurses for better recovery of soldiers. , using mobile radiography. units.

In this article, we will mention the most important events in the life of this scientist through a biography of Marie Curie.

    Brief biography of Marie Curie

    Maria Salomea Sklodowska, better known as Marie Currie, was born on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland.. Both parents were teachers, his father was a physics and mathematics teacher, and his mother a piano and voice teacher. She was the youngest of five children and did not have an easy childhood because her parents had lost all their possessions.

    Right now the Russians had occupied Poland, thus losing part of the teaching of the Polish language and culture. This is why Marie took clandestine courses to learn the customs of the country.

    The Russians’ tenure in Poland also affected the work of Marie’s father, who lost his job because he was a supporter of Polish culture. Likewise, by banning laboratory teaching in schools, the father moved all scientific material to his home and used it to teach his children their usefulness.

    Marie Curie’s life was also marked by the untimely death of one of her sisters and of her mother., facts which caused Curie to lose his Catholic faith.

      Youth and university years

      As for her educational career, Curie entered the boarding school of J. Sikorska at the age of 10, then was transferred to an institute for girls, where she obtained a gold medal in 1883. Due to the difficulties encountered by women at the time in order to be able to train, she had to register with her sister in an underground Polish university which accepted women.

      In order to raise funds to pay for her medical studies with her sister Bronislawa and her studies, she worked as a private teacher and as a housekeeper. Her sister moved to Paris in 1890 and offered to accompany Marie with her husband, but she did not agree, as she had not yet raised enough money to pay the school fees at the university.

      Nevertheless he never stopped studying and training, he continued to attend underground university and began his studies in the field of practical sciences by attending the chemistry laboratory of the Museum of Industry and Agriculture.

      A year later, at the age of 24, he was finally able to settle in Paris with enough money, which he had saved thanks to the work and the help of his father, to continue his training. Already in the new town continued his studies in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at the University of Paris la Sorbonne, who despite his good level in these subjects had to strive to learn and understand French.

      In Paris, living conditions did not improve, because to pay for his accommodation and his studies, he had to work by attending evening classes. But his efforts paid off and in 1893 he was able to graduate in physics, being the first in his class and thus able to start working in an industrial laboratory. His studies in the field of physics did not cease, and in 1894 he obtained his second degree at the already named University of Paris. He also had the hobby of performing in certain plays.

        His professional life in research

        In 1894 he made one of his first surveys by the Society for the Promotion of National Industry, with the aim of study and know the magnetic properties of various steels.

        It is that year that she meets the one who will be her future husband, Pierre Curie, at the beginning their union is only professional because Pierre, who was professor at the Superior School of Physics and Chemistry Paris in Paris. , provides Marie with a laboratory with more space to work. But their great interest and passion for science came together and thus got married on July 26, 1895.

        He continues his training with the realization of his doctorate, whose thesis focused on research on radioactive substances. He chose this subject in view of the discoveries made by Henri Becquerel of uranium radiation and Wilhelm Röntgen of X-rays.

        By conducting his research, he can refute previously accepted hypotheses such as the one which claimed that atoms were indivisible. Neither she nor her husband knew the dangers of working with the colony without controlling its conditions, at that time the associated diseases were not yet known.

        On a personal level, Marie and Pierre had their first daughter named Irene in 1897., then, taking into account the new arrival in the family, Marie decided to combine her research with the work of a teacher at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and thus be able to provide for her daughter’s needs.

          Consolidation of his scientific career

          The couple continued their research in the field of radioactivity and it was in 1898 that they made public the discovery of two new radioactive elements: polonium and radium which show more radioactivity than the already known uranium. Despite their announcement, it took them four more years to be able to prove their discovery.

          In her work as a teacher, Marie Curie she was the first woman to be appointed teacher at the high school where she taught in 1900. Her continued contact with radiation caused her and her husband to experience the first symptoms and health problems in 1903.

          Piere and Marie made several joint publications where they went so far as to claim that if cancer cells that formed tumors were exposed to radium, they were destroyed more quickly than healthy cells.

          It was in 1903 that they obtained their first recognition by receiving the Davy Medal from the Royal Society of London for their discovery in the field of chemistry and the Nobel Prize in physics awarded, with marriage, also to Henri Becquerel for his research on radioactivity. . To be the first woman to receive this award, even if it was not an easy task since at the beginning it was intended to reward only two men.

          A year later, in 1904, his second and last daughter, Eve, was born. The couple’s health continued to deteriorate due to constant radiation exposure. It was in 1906 that an accident put an end to Pierre’s life, causing the catastrophic fact that Marie suffered from depression. On May 13 of the same year, she became professor of physics at the University of Paris, formerly belonging to her husband, being the first woman to teach at this university.

          Marie Curie was a member of the Academy of Sciences of Sweden, the Czech Republic and Poland, but failed to become a part of the Academy of Sciences of France, receiving multiple criticism for being a woman and a foreigner. These criticisms did not cease, since in 1911 the romance which she had had with a former pupil of her husband was revealed, thus reproaching him, in a bad way, for being a broken home.

          But his research and recognition did not stop, awarding him the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1911 for his discoveries of radium and polonium, the isolation of radium and the study of the nature of this element.

          Despite his accolades and awards, his psychological and physical problems increased, so he decided that the best option would be to take time off. A year later, in 1913, he improved his health, thus making it possible to study the properties of radiant radiation at low temperature.

            The years of the Great War and the post-war years

            His research and studies they were interrupted by the First World War., but Marie’s contributions did not cease, she proposed the creation of mobile radiography units, X-ray equipment, to better treat wounded soldiers and held the post of director of the Radiology Service of the French Red Cross .

            After the war, Marie went to the United States to collect funds and thus continue her radio research. In 1920, he founded the Institut Curie, which is today one of the main centers for medical, biological and biophysical research.

            The last years and death

            In 1922 he was a member of the International Commission for Intellectual Co-operation of the League of Nations and member of the French National Academy of Medicine. He was also a member of the International Atomic Weights Committee of the International Chemistry Union.

            Marie Curie died on July 4, 1934 at the sanctuary of Sancellemoz, France, from aplastic anemia. His research into radioactivity and unprotected x-ray exposure caused serious damage to his health.

            Bibliographical references

            • Gavaldà, J. (2020) Marie Curie, the mother of modern physics. National Geographic.
            • Fernandez, T. and Tamaro, E. (2004) Biography of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. Biographies and life. The online biographical encyclopedia.

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