Friday, November 11, 2011

Marie Curie - Biography

marie curie

Marie Curie - Biography

Marie Curie,
née Maria Sklodowska, was born in Warsaw on November
7, 1867, the daughter of a secondary-school teacher. She received
a general education in local schools and some scientific training
from her father. She became involved in a students' revolutionary
organization and found it prudent to leave Warsaw, then in the
part of Poland dominated by Russia, for Cracow, which at that
time was under Austrian rule. In 1891, she went to Paris to
continue her studies at the Sorbonne where she obtained
Licenciateships in Physics and the Mathematical Sciences. She met
Pierre Curie, Professor in the School of Physics in 1894 and in
the following year they were married. She succeeded her husband
as Head of the Physics Laboratory at the Sorbonne, gained her
Doctor of Science degree in 1903, and following the tragic death
of Pierre Curie in 1906, she took his place as Professor of
General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences, the first time a
woman had held this position. She was also appointed Director of
the Curie Laboratory in the Radium Institute of the University of
Paris, founded in 1914.



Her early researches, together with her husband, were often
performed under difficult conditions, laboratory arrangements
were poor and both had to undertake much teaching to earn a
livelihood. The discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in
1896 inspired the Curies in their brilliant researches and
analyses which led to the isolation of polonium, named after the
country of Marie's birth, and radium. Mme. Curie developed
methods for the separation of radium from radioactive residues in
sufficient quantities to allow for its characterization and the
careful study of its properties, therapeutic properties in
particular.



Mme. Curie throughout her life actively promoted the use of
radium to alleviate suffering and during World War I, assisted by
her daughter, Irene, she personally devoted herself to this
remedial work. She retained her enthusiasm for science throughout
her life and did much to establish a radioactivity laboratory in
her native city - in 1929 President Hoover of the United States
presented her with a gift of $ 50,000, donated by American
friends of science, to purchase radium for use in the laboratory
in Warsaw.



Mme. Curie, quiet, dignified and unassuming, was held in high
esteem and admiration by scientists throughout the world. She was
a member of the Conseil du Physique Solvay from 1911 until her
death and since 1922 she had been a member of the Committee of
Intellectual Co-operation of the League of Nations. Her work is
recorded in numerous papers in scientific journals and she is the
author of Recherches sur les Substances Radioactives
(1904), L'Isotopie et les Éléments Isotopes and
the classic Traité' de Radioactivité
(1910).



The importance of Mme. Curie's work is reflected in the numerous
awards bestowed on her. She received many honorary science,
medicine and law degrees and honorary memberships of learned
societies throughout the world. Together with her husband, she
was awarded half of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, for
their study into the spontaneous radiation discovered by
Becquerel, who was awarded the other half of the Prize. In 1911
she received a second Nobel Prize, this time in
Chemistry
, in recognition of her work in radioactivity. She
also received, jointly with her husband, the Davy Medal of the
Royal Society in 1903 and, in 1921, President Harding of the
United States, on behalf of the women of America, presented her
with one gram of radium in recognition of her service to
science.

For further details, cf. Biography of Pierre Curie. Mme. Curie
died in Savoy, France, after a short illness, on July 4,
1934.

From Nobel Lectures, Physics 1901-1921, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1967


This autobiography/biography was written
at the time of the award and first
published in the book series Les
Prix Nobel
.
It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures.
To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

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