Happy Birthday, Marie Skłdowska Curie

Today, November 7th, 2017, marks the 150th anniversary of one of the greats in the history of Physics and Chemistry, the birthday of Marie Skłodowska, born this day in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland (then a part of the Russian Empire during the partition of Poland).

Initially, she studied clandestinely in Warsaw and later moved to Paris, eventually getting her higher degrees there, meeting and marrying her husband, Pierre Curie, and later sharing the 1903 Nobel prize in physics with him and Henri  Becquerel.

She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win the Nobel prize twice, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences, and was part of the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris.

Among her achievements:

  • The development of the theory of radioactivity (a term she coined).
  • Development of techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes.
  • Discovery of two elements, Polonium (named after her native Poland) and Radium.
  • During World War I, she developed mobile radiography units to provide X-ray services to field hospitals.

Though she became a French Citizen (remember, Poland as a country did not exist during this time), the retained her Polish identity, taught her daughters the Polish language, and  took them on visits to Poland. Perhaps this is why she named the first chemical element she discovered (1898) Polonium–in honor of her native Poland.

Marie Curie (often known as Madame Curie) died in 1934 due to her exposure to radiation in the course of her scientific research and exposure during her radiological work during World War I in field hospitals.

As you may well surmise, she is highly honored and regarded across the whole world today, and especially so in her beloved native Poland.

Read more here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Curie.

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