Feature: Marie Curie

Written by: Emily Vargo

On November 7, 1886, a brilliant woman was born in Warshaw Congress, Poland, in the Russian Empire. This woman grows up to be the first woman ever to win the Nobel Prize in Physics and the Nobel prize in chemistry. She is also the only person with the Nobel prize in two scientific fields. This women is Marie Curie.

Marie was the youngest of five siblings. Growing up, Marie’s grandfather taught her chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Because the Russian authorities eliminated laboratory instructions from Polish schools, he brought equipment home and taught the children.

Marie lost her mother when she was only ten years old, and three years later, she lost her oldest sister. Their deaths were hard on Marie, which caused her to drop out of boarding school and take up tutoring. Eventually, Marie and her sister went to Clandestine Flying University that admitted women for higher education.

In 1891 Marie left Poland and moved to France, where she studied Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics at the University of Paris. While she was in University, she lived on very little to get by. She wore all the clothes she had on cold winter nights and studied so hard at times she forgot to eat.

Once she obtained her degrees, she began her scientific career in Paris by working on various types of steel. In 1894 Marie visited Poland to see her family and find a job in her career. Unfortunately, no one would accept her due to her sex. Her lover Pierre whom she met in France, convinced her to go back to France, where they married a year later in 1895.

Over the years, Marie and her husband worked on X-rays and how to improve them. They ended up studying radiation phenomena. In December 1903, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science awarded Maria and her husband, the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1906 Maria’s husband was killed in a horrible accident.

However, a month after his death, Marie was given a physics chair position at the University of Paris. She became the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris. In 1911 Maria received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the elements of radium and polonium.

Unfortunately, Maria died on July 4, 1934, from radiation poisoning, resulting from the x-ray experiments that she performed in her scientific research. However, Maria went through many obstacles in her life, but she never let anything stop her from achieving her hopes and dreams.

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