Marie Curie ☢️

In 1891, university education was not allowed for women in Russia, so she had to leave her country to pursue her education in Paris. She began her college career researching the properties of various metals, where she met her husband Pierre Curie, and later they began to work together.

After graduating, she continued with her Ph.D. Marie and Pierre chose Becquerel's study of radiation in uranium as their subject for their thesis. She ended up discovering two new elements in the periodic table, Radium, and Polonium. In 1898 Marie and Pierre announced their discovery, which took them at least four years, and for this, they were both nominated for the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

In 1903, Pierre Curie, Marie Skłodowska-Curie, and Henri Becquerel won the Nobel Prize in Physics "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel".

Unfortunately, Pierre died in an accident in 1906. "On May 13, 1906, she was appointed to the professorship that had been left vacant on her husband's death; she was the first woman to teach in the Sorbonne. In 1908 she became a titular professor, and in 1910 her fundamental treatise on radioactivity was published. In 1911 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry "

You may think that her career ended there, but it did not. There are some interesting facts about Marie after being awarded the Nobel Prize twice.

During the First World War, she was the director of the Red Cross and helped at least 1 million soldiers. She developed the X-rays that we know today, and again it was not an easy task for her. Marie didn't have the money to be able to use x-rays on all the soldiers. She was willing to sell her Nobel prizes to finance the project. She started a fundraiser, by October 1914 she already had an x-ray unit in a Renault van.

"The “Petites Curies” came with a generator, a hospital bed, and an X-ray machine. But once again, she had to sell the idea to the medical establishment, just as she had had to sell the science establishment on her qualifications as a researcher. Doctors were skeptical that radiology had a place on the battlefield."

These made a great difference in how to treat soldier wounds. Her petite Curies were able to detect bullets and shrapnel in soldiers who came to the van to be X-rayed. She made the work of the surgeons way easier because they knew exactly where to operate.

"Curie was galvanized by the need for more X-ray units. In addition to the mobile vans, she wanted to add 200 stationary x-ray units. But the army was as dubious about her idea as they were about the new military technology like the tank and the machine gun. Once again, Curie wouldn’t take no for an answer. She gave X-ray training to 150 women so that they could provide radiological diagnoses for the soldiers. Over a million French soldiers benefited from the Petites Curies and the accessibility of X-ray machines on the front."

Marie has been an inspiration not only for women but for men in science. Her research on radioactivity changed the world we know today. She was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1903 for her research into radioactivity and a second one for chemistry, in 1911. She is still the only person to have won two Nobel prizes in two different sciences. She lived in a time when women did not have the same opportunities as men, but in the end, she was able to fulfill her dreams, and above all, leave a mark that made history. 

Works Cited:

Magazine, Argunners. “This Is How Marie Curie Saved Soldiers' Lives in World War One.” We Are The Mighty, We Are The Mighty, 22 Oct. 2020, www.wearethemighty.com/articles/this-is-how-marie-curie-saved-soldiers-lives-in-world-war-one/.

Extra, History. “Marie Curie (1867–1934): Her Life, Achievements and Legacy.” HistoryExtra, 18 June 2020, www.historyextra.com/period/first-world-war/life-of-the-week-marie-curie/.