Marie Sklodowska Curie: The First Lady Who Won Nobel Price
Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland. In 1867, when she was born, she was given the name of Marie Sklodowska. Being excellent in studies, she used to dream of becoming a student in Sorbonne in Paris. In the face of poor living conditions, she managed to be graduated in physics in 1893 and mathematics in 1894.
She met Pierre Currie during searching the Parisian laboratory to carry on her experimentation. At that time, Pierre Currie was the well-regarded professor at the school of physics and internationally recognized physicist. Despite being from the different caste, he did not care for outward difference or career. In July 1895, both got married.
Marie has heard about Henri Becquerel when she was studying. Henri Becquerel has discovered that from uranium salts a sort of radiation can be emitted. Marie has made her mind to learn these “uranium rays” for her doctoral thesis. Very soon, she found out that amount of uranium and intensity of rays is in direct proportion to her sample. She assumed that radioactivity is an atomic property and even discovered that there were two more radioactive minerals than uranium itself and they were chalcite and pitchblende. According to Marie, the two minerals must include another radioactive element.
Marie got thrilling results during her early experiments. Thereafter, Pierre discarded his study of crystals and joined Marie in her search. Both of them started their search for new substances.
When Marie used to carry out the chemical separations, at that time, Pierre used to take measurements. In this way, the couple used to distribute their work. They isolated a product from pitchblende using chemical refining methods and found that it is 400 times more active than uranium. The product was given a name of “polonium” giving tribute to Marie’s native Poland.
Afterward, Marie recalls that to move the containers and transfer the liquids and stir it for hours with the iron bar was exhausting work for her and her husband. The couple continued with the painstaking refining and at last, they reached to a new discovery. In December 1898, an even more, radioactive substance in pitchblende was discovered by them and they gave this new substance name of “radium”. This was the discovery which gave long-lasting effects and released the doors for radiotherapy and nuclear medicine.
Pierre illustrated amazing properties of radium at Royal Institution Lecture in London in 1903. He also explained about the medical tests which he was carrying out on himself. He had attached a piece of radium to his arm and kept it for complete ten hours. Then he examined the burn-like wound that left everlasting scar. It was then, Pierre observed the potential of radium in handling cancer.
In 1903, Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to both Marie and Pierre Curie. This award was given for the extraordinary services the couple had given and especially for the research work on radiation phenomena which was discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel.
In 1906, Pierre was killed. Marie was now left with her two daughters, Irene who was 9 years old and Eve who was 2 years old. However, Marie was focused on her work and continued it. She became first woman professor at the Sorbonne and she also discovered the method to isolate radium in metallic form. She was again awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry and for finding new elements namely polonium and radium. She achieved all this by studying the nature and compounds of this element and isolation of radium.
Marie established frontline services between the battlefields of Belgium and France during the World War I. when the war was over, she continued to raise fund for her Institutes and for hospital and laboratory associated with radiology.
It was 1934 when Mari Curie died due to the cumulative effects of radiation exposure.
Remains of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie were preserved in the Pantheon of Paris in 1995. The first woman to get honored for scientific achievements, Marie Curie was a remarkable lady in the world history.