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Who was Marie Curie?

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Last updated date: 14th Jul 2024
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Important Facts about Marie Curie

Marie Curie was a scientist in the field of radiation as well as a physicist and chemist. Together with her husband Pierre Curie, she discovered the elements Polonium and Radium. Together with Henri Becquerel, they were given the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, while Marie was given the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. Throughout her career, she spent a great time defining radium's many characteristics and exploring its medicinal possibilities. She passed away in 1934 from a blood condition, while she finally perished from her work with radioactive elements. Let us learn some facts about Marie Curie.

A Picture of Marie Curie

A Picture of Marie Curie

Early Life of Marie Curie

So, let us see who was Marie Curie. On November 7, 1867, in Warsaw, Poland, Marya (Manya) Salomee Sklodowska was born. She was the youngest of five kids and had three elder sisters as well as a brother. Her parents, Wladyslaw, her father, and Bronislava, her mother, were educators who made sure their daughters had the same education as their sons. 

In 1878, Curie's mother passed away from illness. The author Barbara Goldsmith writes in her book "Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie" (W. W. Norton, 2005) that Curie's mother's passing had a very bad effect on her, feeding a lifetime of sadness and influencing her views on religion. 

Curie finished secondary school in 1883 at the age of 15, taking first place in her class. The University of Warsaw would not accept women. Curie started working as a nanny at the age of 17 to help support her sister as she attended medical school in Paris. After finishing her studies on her own, Curie left for Paris in November 1891.

To appear more French, Curie signed her name as "Marie" when she registered at the Sorbonne in Paris. She received the Alexandrovitch Scholarship for Polish students studying abroad in appreciation of her abilities. She got her licenciateships in Physics and mathematical sciences in 1894.

Meeting Pierre Curie

Now let us see who was Pierre curie. Curie was given a research grant to investigate the chemical properties and magnetic characteristics of steel by one of her instructors. She met Pierre Curie, another outstanding researcher, during that study. In the summer of 1895, they got married.

An Image of Pierre Curie and Marie Curie

An Image of Pierre Curie and Marie Curie

The piezoelectric effect, which occurs when electric charges are created by squeezing or applying mechanical stress to certain crystals, was discovered by Pierre when he was studying the science of crystallography. He also created many devices to measure electrical and magnetic fields. This helps us know a little bit about the biography of Pierre Curie and Marie Curie.

Discovery of X-Rays and Research

The discovery of X-rays by German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen and the discovery of analogous "Becquerel rays" by uranium salts by French physicist Henri Becquerel piqued Curie's interest. Goldsmith asserts that Curie applied a small coating of uranium salts on one of two metal plates. She then used devices her husband had created to gauge the intensity of the radiation the uranium was producing. The devices picked up the minute electrical currents produced when uranium rays were fired into the space between two metal plates. She discovered that uranium compounds also gave out comparable rays. Additionally, regardless of whether the compounds were in a solid or liquid condition, the rays' intensity remained constant.

More uranium compounds were tested by Curie. When she performed experiments with the uranium-rich ore known as pitchblende, she discovered that the mineral still released rays that were stronger than those produced by pure uranium even after the uranium had been extracted. 

In a landmark report published in March 1898, Curie presented her research and introduced the term "radioactivity." According to Goldsmith, Curie made two groundbreaking observations in her work. According to Curie, monitoring radioactivity will facilitate the discovery of new elements. Additionally, the atom's radioactivity was a characteristic.

Marie Curie in her Lab

Marie Curie in her Lab

Frequently working into the night, Marie Curie stirred enormous cauldrons with an iron rod that was almost as tall as she was.

Two of the chemical components, one comparable to bismuth and the other to barium, were discovered by the Curies to be radioactive. The Curies' conclusion—which they published in July 1898—was that the combination resembling bismuth included a radioactive element that had not yet been identified. They gave it the name polonium in honour of Marie Curie's native Poland. By the year's end, they had discovered a second radioactive element, which they named radium after the Latin word for rays, "radius." The Curies revealed their achievement in 1902 in extracting purified radium.

When a horse-drawn wagon and Pierre Curie entered the street at the same moment in 1906, a sad event resulted in Curie's death. After that, Marie Curie became the first woman to hold the position of professor of general physics in the faculty of sciences at the Sorbonne.

Marie received a second Chemistry Nobel Prize in 1911 for discovering the elements polonium and radium. 2011 was dubbed the "International Year of Chemistry" in recognition of the 100th anniversary of her Nobel Prize. Apart from this she also has many Nobel prizes and accomplishments.


Here, we have learned how Polonium and radium were discovered by Marie Curie along with her husband Pierre. At the age of 66, Marie Curie passed away at the Sancellemoz Sanatorium in Passy, France, on July 4, 1934. Her aplastic pernicious anaemia, which she developed as a result of years of occupational radiation exposure, was identified as the cause of death. Eve (born 1898) and Irene (born 1898) were her two daughters (born 1904). So now we know, facts about Marie curie and the Nobel prize and accomplishments of Marie curie.

FAQs on Who was Marie Curie?

1. Where was Curie buried?

In Sceaux, a neighbourhood in southern Paris, Curie was interred next to her spouse. However, in 1995, their bones were transferred and buried in the Paris Pantheon among some of France's greatest leaders. When the 96th element on the periodic table of elements was found and given the name "curium," the Curies gained yet another accolade.

2. Which institute was developed by Marie Curie?

Marie Curie founded the Radium Institute in 1932. It was located in Poland. After World War II its name was changed to Maria Sklodowska Curie Institute of Oncology. Special cancer and research treatment were done here.

3. Why did Marie offer her medals to the war?

Only a few years had passed after Marie Curie received her second Nobel Prize before she thought of selling her medals. Curie offered to have her two medals melted down when France issued a request for gold to aid the war effort at the onset of World War I. She finally decided to utilise her prize money to buy war bonds when bank employees refused to accept them.