MARIE CURIE, A PIONEER AHEAD OF HER TIME

The scientist Marie Curie was born on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. Her parents originally named her Maria Sklodowska. Marie was the daughter of two high school teachers who were in misery, she was part of a family with five siblings where she was the youngest of all.

she At a young age she lost her mother, leaving her family even deeper in poverty. She had to earn money as a tutor, she was never able to become a teacher because she didn't have the money to pay for her training. She was still able to receive an education from the small local schools and her father taught her everything she knew about science. In her free time Marie she learned from all the books she could get her hands on.

her Years later she decided to join a mixed student organization to continue learning, but she soon realized that her chances of educating herself as a woman were few. She saved money thanks to her work as her tutor and in 1891 after the invasion of Poland she decided to leave the country. Thanks to the help of her older sister, she managed to continue her higher studies at The Sorbonne University in Paris, France. Upon moving in, she decided to change her name from Maria to Marie.

During her training in Paris she had several financial problems that led her to feed on tea and bread. Her teachers noticed her ability and enthusiasm in the field of science and in 1893 they gave her a scholarship. She finally graduated with a degree in Physics and Mathematical Science.

In Paris she met her future husband, Pierre Curie. They shared a laboratory and realized their shared passion for science. When Marie finished her studies, she had to return to Poland, but when she saw the few possibilities for her, she decided to return to Paris. Marie and Pierre eventually married and had two daughters.

Marie and Pierre teamed up in scientific research, which led to them winning their first Nobel Prize in 1903 for their discoveries in radioactivity.

MARIE CURIE AND HER DISCOVERIES of her

Marie managed to make many advances in science by collaborating with her husband, but due to the lack of knowledge of her radioactivity at the time, her laboratory was poorly prepared. The lack of research on radioactive materials meant that they were not protected against X-rays.

Among her main discoveries are Polonium and Radium. Marie was based on the discovery of radioactivity in 1864 by the scientist Henri Becquerel. He discovered that when in contact with direct sunlight, uranium emitted radiation similar to that of X-rays.

Marie became interested in the phenomenon and they carried out different experiments with the material. This led to the discovery of Polonium, named after Marie's native country of Poland. The material is also known as Radium F, with the symbol Po in the periodic table and its atomic number is 84. It is currently known as a highly toxic, radioactive and dangerous element to handle.

In 1898 they published the discovery of the new material and that it could be used as a source of neutrons. This material today is used both in nuclear weapons and in complex tools that manage to remove static charges from some materials.

Later they discovered a way to separate a new material from radioactive waste, they called it radium. Their discovery was published only a few months after the discovery of polonium. The difference with polonium was its medical capabilities.Marie realized that Radium in small amounts was capable of destroying (effectively and more quickly) tumors

Radium can also be used when mixed with Berbium as a source of neutrons. Today it is used to form weapons, but its main use is in radioactivity for industrial x-rays or checking for flaws in metal parts.

THE NOBEL LAWYERS OF MARIE CURIE

The first Nobel Prize she won was in collaboration with her husband, Pierre. Thanks to another of her great discoveries in 1903 they were awarded the Physics prize. The Curries realized that Becquerel produced spontaneous reactions beyond physical or chemical alteration, which the couple studied.

After the death of her husband, Marie continued to investigate radiation. This led to her winning her second Nobel Prize in 1911, this time for Chemistry. This award not only made her the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, but in the history of the prizes she is the only woman to have won two.

The importance of Marie in the Nobel prizes and science goes beyond her discoveries. She was the first woman to win these prestigious awards. By winning it, she opened the doors to the millions of scientists who saw it as impossible to reach such prestige. Marie managed to inspire future generations of girls who at the time thought that science was not a viable path for women. So much so that her daughter Irene also opted for science and managed to win a Nobel Prize like her mother. In a 2009 poll by New Scientist, she was voted the "most inspiring woman in science."

OTHER MARIE CURIE AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS

Apart from the Nobel prizes, Marie managed to collect others thanks to her discoveries. Among them are the Royal Society's Davy Medal Award that she won in 1903 in collaboration with her husband, Pierre. The following year, 1904, she won the Matteuci Medal, also in collaboration with her husband. In 1907 she won the Actonian Prize, this time without collaborations. The Elliot Cresson Medal was awarded to her in 1909.

One of the most notable prizes other than the Nobel was in 1921. The president of the United States bought a gram of radium for $500,000 in honor of his services to science, from all the women of America.

THE LAST YEARS OF MARIE CURIE, 1900-1935

After Pierre Curie's death in 1906, Marie and her daughter, Irene, chose to remain the kingpin of radiology for medicine. During World War I they promoted the use of radium as a method of healing wounded soldiers. They believed that exposure to X-rays would help to more effectively and quickly heal the wounded.

Curie created portable equipment with auxiliary X-ray generators to help doctors in the trenches, these became known as "radiological ambulances or petites curies". This made Marie Curie the director of the red cross radiology service. They sent these generators to more than 200 war hospitals. After the war, Curie returned to her studies and was part of various scientific academies such as the National Academy of Medicine of France in 1922 and obtained countless awards.

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THE DEATH OF MARIE CURIE

As we mentioned earlier, due to the lack of information on radiology toxins, Curie's laboratories were not prepared for the materials they handled.She didn't take care of herself either, touching the materials without the adequate protections that we know today

Marie, being in direct contact with radioactive materials for long periods of time, her health was affected. Thanks to this Marie contracted anemia. She eventually died in 1934 at the sanatorium in Sancellemoz, France.

Such was the radiation that she had obtained that she was buried with a protective layer of Linnaeus and all her belongings are highly toxic. Due to her contamination levels all of her 1890's papers are considered dangerous to handle, even her cookbook is radioactive. To handle the papers you must wear protective clothing.

Her last year of her life Marie wrote a book called “Radioactivity” which was published in 1935 after her death.

THE WORK AND LEGACY OF MARIE CURIE FOR SCIENCE

The physical and social aspects of the Curies' work helped shape the world of the 20th and 21st centuries. To achieve her scientific achievements, she had to overcome barriers both in her native country and in France, which stood in her way as a woman. Curie's work not only changed the world of physics and chemistry, it also profoundly changed social life around science.

She was known for her honesty and moderate lifestyle. When she received the scholarship from her in 1893 she didn't take five years to pay it back once she started earning her own money. She gave much of her first Nobel Prize money to friends, family, students, and research associates. When the first world war started she tried to sell her prize, made of gold, to the bank of France to help, but the bank refused so she opted to donate her prize money.

Marie never intended to patent the radium isolation process so that the scientific community could conduct research without hindrance, and advance discoveries beyond what she had found.

It was not uncommon for Marie to refuse to accept awards as she did research for her love of science, not her fame. Albert Einstein described her as the only person who was incapable of being broken by fame.

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