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Marie Curie

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Marie Curie

_Research,_Vienna" id="whe_lnki_212" title="Institute for Radium Research, Vienna">Institute for Radium Research, Vienna, with Stefan Meyer; and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry, with Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner.[57][58]

In August 1922, Marie Curie became a member of the newly created International Commission for Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations.[59] In 1923, she wrote a biography of Pierre, entitled Pierre Curie.[60] In 1925, she visited Poland, to participate in the ceremony that laid foundations for the Radium Institute in Warsaw.[43] Her second American tour, in 1929, succeeded in equipping the Warsaw Radium Institute with radium; it was opened in 1932 and her sister Bronisława became its director.[43][54] These distractions from her scientific labours and the attendant publicity caused her much discomfort but provided resources needed for her work.[54] In 1930, she was elected a member of the International Atomic Weights Committee where she served until her death.[61]

Death

1935 statue, facing the Radium Institute, Warsaw

Curie visited Poland for the last time in early 1934.[10][62] A few months later, on 4 July 1934, she died at the Sancellemoz Sanatorium in Passy, in Haute-Savoie, from aplastic anemia believed to have been contracted from her long-term exposure to radiation.[43][63] The damaging effects of ionising radiation were not known at the time of her work, which had been carried out without the safety measures later developed.[62] She had carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket,[64] and she stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the faint light that the substances gave off in the dark.[65] Curie was also exposed to X-rays from unshielded equipment while serving as a radiologist in field hospitals during the war.[50] Although her many decades of exposure to radiation caused chronic illnesses (including near blindness due to cataracts) and ultimately her death, she never really acknowledged the health risks of radiation exposure.[66]

She was interred at the cemetery in Sceaux, alongside her husband Pierre.[43] Sixty years later, in 1995, in honour of their achievements, the remains of both were transferred to the Panthéon, Paris. She became the first—and so far the only—woman to be honoured with interment in the Panthéon on her own merits.[59]

Because of their levels of radioactivity, her papers from the 1890s are considered too dangerous to handle.[67] Even her cookbook is highly radioactive.[67] Her papers are kept in lead-lined boxes, and those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing.[67]

In her last year she worked on a book, Radioactivity, which was published posthumously in 1935.[62]

Legacy

The physical and societal aspects of the Curies' work contributed substantially to shaping the world of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.[68] Cornell University professor L. Pearce Williams observes:

The result of the Curies' work was epoch-making. Radium's radioactivity was so great that it could not be ignored. It seemed to contradict the principle of the conservation of energy and therefore forced a reconsideration of the foundations of physics. On the experimental level the discovery of radium provided men like Ernest Rutherford with sources of radioactivity with which they could probe the structure of the atom. As a result of Rutherford's experiments with alpha radiation, the nuclear atom was first postulated. In medicine, the radioactivity of radium appeared to offer a means by which cancer could be successfully attacked.[33]

If Marie Curie's work helped overturn established ideas in physics and chemistry, it has had an equally profound effect in the societal sphere. To attain her scientific achievements, she had to overcome barriers that were placed in her way because she was a woman, in both her native and her adoptive country. This aspect of her life and career is highlighted in Françoise Giroud's Marie Curie: A Life, which emphasizes Marie's role as a feminist precursor.[10]

She was known for her honesty and moderate life style.[18][68] Having received a small scholarship in 1893, she returned it in 1897 as soon as she began earning her keep.[8][26] She gave much of her first Nobel Prize money to friends, family, students, and research associates.[10] In an unusual decision, Marie intentionally refrained from patenting the radium-isolation process, so that the scientific community could do research unhindered.[69] She insisted that monetary gifts and awards be given to the scientific institutions she was affiliated with rather than to her.[68] She and her husband often refused awards and medals.[18] Albert Einstein reportedly remarked that she was probably the only person who could not be corrupted by fame.[10]

Awards, honours, and tributes

Tomb of Pierre and Marie Curie, Panthéon, Paris

As one of the most famous female scientists to date, Marie Curie has become an icon in the scientific world and has received tributes from across the globe, even in the realm of pop culture.[70] In a 2009 poll carried out by New Scientist, Marie Curie was voted the "most inspirational woman in science". Curie received 25.1 per cent of all votes cast, nearly twice as many as second-place Rosalind Franklin (14.2 per cent).[71][72]

Poland and France declared 2011 the Year of Marie Curie, and the United Nations declared that this would be the International Year of Chemistry.[73] An artistic installation celebrating "Madame Curie" filled the Jacobs Gallery at San Diego's Museum of Contemporary Art.[74] On 7 November, Google celebrated the anniversary of her birth with a special Google Doodle.[75] On 10 December, the New York Academy of Sciences celebrated the centenary of Marie Curie's second Nobel prize in the presence of Princess Madeleine of Sweden.[76]

Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel prize, the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, the only woman to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences.[77] Awards that she received include:

Soviet postage stamp (1987)

In 1995, she became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon, Paris.[59] The curie (symbol Ci), a unit of radioactivity, is named in honour of her and Pierre (although the commission which agreed on the name never clearly stated whether the standard was named after Pierre, Marie or both of them).[82] The element with atomic number 96 was named curium.[83] Three radioactive minerals are also named after the Curies: curite, sklodowskite, and cuprosklodowskite.[84] She received numerous honorary degrees from universities across the world.[54] The Marie Curie Actions fellowship program of the European Union for young scientists wishing to work in a foreign country is named after her.[85] In Poland, she had received honorary doctorates from the Lwów Polytechnic (1912), Poznań University (1922), Kraków's Jagiellonian University (1924), and the Warsaw Polytechnic (1926).[73]

Numerous locations around the world are named after her.[84] In 2007, a metro station in Paris was renamed to honour both of the Curies.[84] Polish nuclear research reactor Maria is named after her.[86] The 7000 Curie asteroid is also named after her.[84] A KLM McDonnell Douglas MD-11 (registration PH-KCC) is named in her honour.[87]

2011 birthplace mural, on centenary of second Nobel Prize

Several institutions bear her name, starting with the two Curie institutes – the Maria Skłodowska–Curie Institute of Oncology, in Warsaw; and the Institut Curie in Paris. She is the patron of Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, in Lublin, founded in 1944; and of Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris VI), France's pre-eminent science university. In Britain, Marie Curie Cancer Care was organized in 1948 to care for the terminally ill.

Two museums are devoted to Marie Curie. In 1967, the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Museum was established in Warsaw's "New Town", at her birthplace on ulica Freta (Freta Street).[10] Her Paris laboratory is preserved as the Musée Curie, open since 1992.[88]

Several works of art bear her likeness. In 1935, Michalina Mościcka, wife of Polish President Ignacy Mościcki, unveiled a statue of Marie Curie before Warsaw's Radium Institute.[10] During the 1944 Second World War Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi German occupation, the monument was damaged by gunfire; after the war it was decided to leave the bullet marks on the statue and its pedestal.[10] In 1955 Jozef Mazur created a stained glass panel of her, the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Medallion, featured in the University at Buffalo Polish Room.[89]

A number of biographies are devoted to her. In 1938 her daughter, Ève Curie, published Madame Curie.[73] In 1987 Françoise Giroud wrote Marie Curie: A Life.[73] In 2005 Barbara Goldsmith wrote Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie.[73] In 2011 Lauren Redniss published Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, a Tale of Love and Fallout .[90]

Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon starred in the 1943 U.S. Oscar-nominated film, Madame Curie, based on her life.[60] More recently, in 1997, a French film about Pierre and Marie Curie was released, Les Palmes de M. Schutz. It was adapted from a play of the same name. In the film, Marie Curie was played by Isabelle Huppert.[91]

Curie is the subject of the play False Assumptions by Lawrence Aronovitch, in which the ghosts of three other female scientists observe events in her life.[92] Curie has also been portrayed by Susan Marie Frontczak in her play Manya: The Living History of Marie Curie, a one woman show performed in 30 US states and nine countries, by 2014.[93]

Curie's likeness also has appeared on bills, stamps and coins around the world.[84] She was featured on the Polish late-1980s 20,000-złoty banknote[94] as well as on the last French 500-franc note, before the franc was replaced by the euro.[95] Interestingly, Marie Curie themed postage stamps from Mali, the Republic of Togo, Zambia, and the Republic of Guinea actually show a picture of Susan Marie Frontczak portraying Curie in a 2001 picture by Paul Schroeder.[96]

On the 2011 centenary of Marie Curie's second Nobel Prize (1911), an allegorical mural was painted on the façade of her Warsaw birthplace. It depicts an infant Maria Skłodowska holding a test tube from which emanate the elements that she would discover as an adult: polonium and radium.

Also in 2011, a new Warsaw bridge over the Vistula was named after her.

See also

Notes

a. ^ Poland had been partitioned in the 18th century among Russia, Prussia and Austria, and it was Maria Skłodowska Curie's hope that naming the element after her native country would bring world attention to Poland's lack of independence as a sovereign state. Polonium may have been the first chemical element named to highlight a political question.[97]

b. ^ Sources vary concerning the field of her second degree. Tadeusz Estreicher, in the 1938 Polski słownik biograficzny entry, writes that, while many sources state she earned a degree in mathematics, this is incorrect, and that her second degree was in chemistry.[8]

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Further reading

Nonfiction

  • Teresa Kaczorowska (2011). ]Daughter of the Mazovian Plains: Maria Skłodowska–Curie of Mazowsze [Córka mazowieckich równin, czyli, Maria Skłodowska-Curie z Mazowsza (in Polish). Związek Literatów Polskich, Oddz. w Ciechanowie. 
  • Naomi Pasachoff (1996). Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity. Oxford University Press.  
  • Eve Curie (2001). Madame Curie: A Biography. Da Capo Press.  
  • Susan Quinn (1996). Marie Curie: A Life. Da Capo Press.  
  • Françoise Giroud (1986). Marie Curie, a life. Holmes & Meier.  , translated by Lydia Davis
  • Lauren Redniss (2010). Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout. HarperCollins.  
  • Opfell, Olga S. (1978). The Lady Laureates : Women Who Have Won the Nobel Prize. Metuchen,N.J.& London: Scarecrow Press. pp. 147–164.  

Fiction

External links

  • Out of the Shadows – A study of women physicists
  • The official web page of Maria Curie Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland in English.
  • Detailed Biography at Science in Poland website; with quotes, photographs, links etc.
  • European Marie Curie Fellowships
  • Marie Curie Fellowship Association
  • Marie Sklodowska Curie: Her Life as a Media Compendium
  • Marie and Pierre Curie and the Discovery of Polonium and Radium Chronology from nobelprize.org
  • Annotated bibliography of Marie Curie from the Alsos Digital Library
  • Mme. Curie Is Dead; Martyr to ScienceObituary, New York Times, 5 July 1934
  • Some places and memories related to Marie Curie
  • Marie Curie on the 500 French Franc and 20000 old Polish zloty banknotes.
  • Marie Curie at the Internet Movie Database – Animated biography of Marie Curie on DVD from an animated series of world and American history – Animated Hero Classics distributed by Nest Learning.
  • Marie Curie – More than Meets the Eye at the Internet Movie Database – Live Action portrayal of Marie Curie on DVD from the Inventors Series produced by Devine Entertainment.
  • Marie Curie at the Internet Movie Database – Portrayal of Marie Curie in a television mini series produced by the BBC
  • "Marie Curie and the Study of Radioactivity" at American Institute of Physics website. (Site also has a short version for kids entitled "Her story in brief!".)
  • "Marie Curie Walking Tour of Paris". Hypatia. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  • Works by Marie Curie at Internet Archive
  • Works by Marie Curie at Gallica
  • Marie Curie at Find a Grave
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