Marie was a Nobel Prize winner |Marie Curie, or rather Marya
Sklodowska, was born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867. Her parents were
Marya was a brilliant student who dreamed of a scientific
career, which was unheard of for a woman in those days. Marya had
to work as a tutor to earn enough money to travel to Paris to study.
Marya went to university in Paris
and gained degrees in Physics and Mathematics. At this time, this was very unusual. Most universities refused to admit women. In those that did, few women studied science degrees.
At university, she
met Pierre Curie and married him. Together, Pierre and Marie began
their studies of uranium and radio-activity.
Marie invented the term: "radio-active" and she found that both uranium and radium
were very radio-active.
Pierre tested radium on himself
and soon it was being used to treat cancers. In 1903, the Curies were
awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery. However, the radio-activity
began to affect both Pierre and Marie. In 1906 Pierre was run over
by a car which he did not see because of his tiredness.
on with her work. She brought up and educated her two children and
took over her husband's job as professor at the Sorbonne (the University
of Paris). She had to fight a great deal of discrimination.
In 1912, she was awarded
with a Nobel Prize for Chemistry for determining the atomic weight
When the First World War broke out in 1914, Marie felt that mobile X ray units would
help the wounded. She created X ray vans and trained the staff to
run them. The photo on the right shows Marie with one of these trucks.
After the war, Marie turned
her skills to helping cancer patients. She collected funds to finance
She died of leukaemia in 1934 after having been exposed to very
high levels of radiation. Radioactivity is the starting
point for cancer treatment, for the dating techniques used on ancient
objects, rocks and the universe, and for molecular biology and modern
genetics. It is also the source of nuclear energy and the atomic bomb.
The Curie Institute in Paris, which was founded originally as Marie and Pierre's laboratory, continues her work in the fight against cancer.