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Giants of Science: Marie Curie

Jan 07,2015 by Edulab

The pioneering Marie Curie was undoubtedly one the most famous and inspiring scientists of her generation. During her lifetime she made a number of exciting discoveries which revolutionised the scientific community earning herself a place in the annals of history. Here we take a look at her life and many great achievements, and explore how her legacy continues to inspire scientists today.

Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland, in November 1987. Curie was the daughter of two teachers, who insisted all their children, including their daughters, receive a good education.

In 1981, Curie began studying physics and mathematics at the Sorbonne in Paris. She later earned her master’s degree in physics in 1983 and was subsequently awarded a scholarship by women’s education advocates to study for a second degree in mathematics.

It was also during her time in Paris that Curie met another brilliant researcher, by the name of Pierre Curie, who she later married. Together they investigated a number of key research themes including radioactivity.

Curie was fascinated by the research of French physicist Henri Becquerel, who researched uranium rays, and being inspired by his work Curie began investigating these mysterious rays herself.

Following extensive research, Curie concluded that these rays must come from the elements atomic structure, demonstrating that radioactivity is actually an atomic property. It was also Curie herself, who in 1898 coined the term ‘radioactive’.

Following this exciting finding, Pierre abandoned his own research to aid Curie in her efforts, and together they built on the work of others such including Becquerel to make a number of important discoveries.

In 1903 Marie and Pierre were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for physics, along with Henri Becquerel for their work on radioactivity. This saw Curie become the first woman ever to be awarded a Nobel Prize. In the same year Curie also became the first woman in Europe to be awarded a doctorate in physics.

Curie’s remarkable determination and indomitable spirit also saw her awarded a second Nobel prize in 1911, this time for her contributions to the field of chemistry following her discovery of the elements radium and polonium.

In later years, Curie also developed a number of mobile x-ray units which were used by doctors on the front during World War I to diagnose injuries. Following the war she also continued her research into radioactivity and went on to make a number of other important discoveries.

Curie died on the 4th of July 1934 at the age of 66 from a condition known as pernicious anaemia, which likely developed due to her many years of exposure to radiation.

During her life time Curie made many significant scientific breakthroughs, and remains one of, if not the most famous female scientists of all time. Her research continues to inform and inspire scientists today, and, significantly, her achievements not only advanced science, but also women’s place in the scientific world too.

There’s no denying that without the dedication and courage shown by scientists such as Marie Curie, the world would be a much poorer place. Here at Edulab, we are passionate about science, and are providers of a great selection of high quality scientific laboratory supplies perfect for making a few discoveries of your own. For more information about our range of products and services, please do not hesitate to contact us today by giving us a call on 01366 385777, and a member of our knowledgeable team will be happy to assist your with your enquires.