Our Debt to Mme. Curie


Marie Skłodowska-Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity.

Marie-CurieShe was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences. 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.

Her achievements included a theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium (which she named after her native Poland) and radium. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain major centres of medical research today. During World War I, she established the first military field radiological centres.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie

Curie died in 1934 at the sanatorium of Sancellemoz (Haute-Savoie), France, due to aplastic anemia brought on by exposure to radiation.

Interestingly, Marie Curie’s notebooks, from the 19th century are still too radioactive to be handled without protection. They will continue to be so, until at least the year 3511.