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Marie Salomea Skodowska-Curie, a Polish naturalized Frenchwoman, was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity. She conducted pioneering studies on the interaction of radioactive elements and materials. Today, her work is celebrated as a world-class achievement. The Polish-born scientist was awarded the Nobel Prize for her work.
Her research on radioactivity led to the discovery of two new elements, polonium and radium. However, her work was nearly stalled by sexism. In 1903, Curies was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, which she shared with her co-worker Pierre Becquerel.
Curie died of aplastic anemia due to radiation. Despite her early death, her scientific contribution to science was immense. She won two Nobel Prizes and influenced generations of nuclear physicists and chemists. She wrote the entry on radium in the thirteenth edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, which was published in 1926.
Marie Curie and her husband, François Curie, raised two daughters. Her eldest daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie, went on to be a Nobel Prize-winning chemist. Their daughter, Irene, was diagnosed with leukemia due to exposure to radioactive materials.
Marie Curie was born on Nov. 7, 1867, and raised in Poland during the Russian occupation. Her parents were modest and had little money, but she had ambitions to become a scientist. She agreed to fund her sister's medical degree in France by working as a governess. The money she earned helped her move to Paris. There, she studied physics, math, and chemistry.
She studied different minerals, including pitchblende, and found a new radioactive element, which she and her husband named polonium after her native Poland. The two Curies then used this discovery to isolate radium, which was two million times more radioactive than uranium. They also confirmed the existence of radium and polonium by 1902. The discovery of radium changed the world, forever. Her eldest daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie, went on to be a Nobel Prize-winning chemist. Their daughter, Irene, was diagnosed with leukemia due to exposure to radioactive materials.
Marie Curie studied hard to achieve her dreams. She took up French and mathematics as well as physics, while working as a governess for five years. During her studies, she was able to make ends meet by cleaning glassware in university labs. Her diet was sub-par, but her enthusiasm for science and her determination motivated her to continue her studies. In 1893, she earned her master's degree in mathematics and physics.
As her research progressed, she needed a new lab. Eventually, the government of Austria offered to fund the building of a cutting edge laboratory for her. By the time World War I broke out, she was almost finished with the Radium Institute. She also worked with medical doctors at the front to organize a fleet of mobile X-ray machines.
Curie's research helped save millions of lives. Today, her laboratory is preserved at the Musee Curie in Paris. In addition, her likeness has appeared on many coins, stamps, and banknotes around the world. Her likeness appeared on a Polish banknote in the 1980s, and on the last French 500 franc note before the introduction of the euro. Curie's likeness has also been portrayed in various artistic works.
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