Monday, July 19, 2021

Marie Sklodowska-Curie (1867-1934)

She was the first Nobel laureate to win two separate Nobel prizes, the first woman in Europe to complete a doctorate, and the first and only woman to be laid to rest under the famous dome of the Pantheon for her own accomplishments.

Born in 1867, the Polish “Marya” was the youngest of the five children of a couple of school teachers who instilled in her a deep respect for education. Her mother was a gifted pianist with a good singing voice, who was first a pupil and then a teacher at the Frets Street School in Warsaw. Marie's father taught mathematics and physics, but he was forced to take a second job to supplement his family's income.

Marie's intellectual aptness became evident when she was a toddler, and she was able to read at the age of 4 years.

On June 1883, Marie (15 yrs) graduated at the top of her class at the best girl’s high school in Warsaw – called Gymnasium – a high school attended by only the brightest.

In Oct. 1891, Marie (24 yrs) went to Paris to study at Sorbonne. In 1893, she received an advanced degree (MS in physics and was valedictorian of her class. On July 23, 1893, Marie became the first woman to earn the licence des sciences physiques (master's degree in physical sciences) at the Sorbonne, ranking first with high honors. In 1894, she received an advanced degree in math and was salutatorian (2nd) of her class.

Marie’s doctoral thesis dealt with the unusual element, uranium, discovered by Henri Becquerel.

Marie met Pierre Curie, Professor and researcher at the Paris University, in 1894 when she started research for her doctoral thesis in his laboratory. Pierre was a physicist in Europe and well known for his work on crystals and electronics. They married in 1895 and had two children, Eve and Irene.

On December 26, Marie and Pierre Curie, together with Gustave Bemont, their colleague and laboratory chief at the School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry, officially announced the possible existence of yet another previously unknown chemical element that they proposed to call radium.

These discoveries were made based on measurements of ionizing radiation emitted by the ore and they steered a fantastic number of scientific discoveries made during the first half of 20th century.

In 1934, Marie Curie began to experience weakness, dizziness and fatigue, and died on the morning of July 4 from aplastic anaemia caused by a lifetime exposure to ionizing radiation.
Marie Sklodowska-Curie (1867-1934)

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