Madame Curie

(Marie Sklodowska Curie)

Civilization: European — France
   Field of Renown:  science — physics
Era:  Rise of Germany
Madame Curie

Born Maria Sklodowska, Madame Curie grew up to become one of the most famous female scientists in history. She conducted studies in the areas of Physics and Chemistry, and she was awarded Nobel Prizes for her work in each. She is most famous for discovering two extremely radioactive elements, polonium and radium, and for using the latter to assist wounded soldiers in World War I.

Marie lived her early life in Poland but left for Paris to study at the University of Paris, where she obtained degrees in Physics and Mathematical Sciences. There she met and married the leading Professor of Physics, Pierre Curie, and they performed many experimental researches together. After Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity, Marie and her husband were able to isolate two radioactive elements, radium and polonium. Marie also discovered a process that would isolate radium from radioactive residue so that she might better study the element and aptly employ its healing properties.

After her husbandís abrupt death in 1906, Madame Curie took his place as Professor of General Physics, a position never before held by a woman. She was also later appointed Director of the Curie Laboratory in the University of Paris, founded in 1914. During World War I, she and her elder daughter promoted the use of radium to relieve suffering, and she spent much of her time devoted to this cause. She continued to work in Poland, and in 1922 U.S. President Hoover and the American friends of science presented her with $50,000 for the purchase of radium for use in her Warsaw lab. She was much respected throughout the scientific world, and she was a member of both the Conseil du Physique Solvay and the Committee of Intellectual Co-operation of the League of Nations. She received both the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, along with her husband, and in 1911 she received the same award for her work in the field of Chemistry. Madame Curie passed away in Savoy, France on July 4, 1934.

Key events during the life of Madame Curie:

Born in Warsaw, Poland
Went to France to study at the University of Paris
Married Pierre Curie
Gained her Doctor of Science degree
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics
Death of her husband Pierre
Took her husband's place as Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences
Became a member of the Conseil du Physique Solvay
Recieved a second Nobel Prize, this time for Chemistry
the Curie Labortory in the Radium Institute of the University of Paris was founded, Marie was appointed Director
President Hoover presented Curie with $50,000 to buy materials for her laboratory
Died in Savoy, France following an illness

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Sir William Crookes:  in  Story Lives of Great Scientists  by  F. J. Rowbotham

Image Links

M and Madame Curie
 in Story Lives of Great Scientists

Short Biography
Pierre Curie Husband of Marie Curie, discoverer of radioactive elements and professor at the University of Paris
Herbert Hoover U.S. President at the start of the Great Depression who failed to solve financial problems
Henri Becquerel Discoverer of radioactivity. Conducted several experiements on the properties of uranium
Lord Kelvin Made important discoveries in thermodynamics and electricity.
Ernest Rutherford Father of nuclear physics. Advocated the orbital theory of the atom.
J. J. Thomson Discovered the electron, and also the isotope.