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How Successful was Irene Curie?

Irene Joliot-Curie was born on September 12, 1897. She was a French chemist, physicist, and politician. Just like her mother, Curie was a world-renowned genius in science. She has achieved so many great things, including a noble prize and several awards. But did she actually live up to her name?

Irene Curie and her husband won the Nobel Prize 30 years after Curie’s parents got their award. Their discovery was based on the discovery of artificial radioactivity. She passed due to overexposure to radiation. Her children are prominent scientists too.

Irene Curie’s Early Life and Education

Irene Joliot-Curie was born in Paris, France, in 1897 and was the first of Marie and Pierre’s two daughters. They lost their father in 1906 due to a horse-drawn wagon incident and Marie was left to raise them by herself. 

Education was essential to their mother and Irene’s education started at a school near the Paris Observatory. This academy that was chosen had a more demanding curriculum than the school nearby Curie’s home. In 1906, it was clear Irene was talented in mathematics and her mother decided to focus on that instead of keeping her in public school. 

Irene’s mother joined forces with a number of eminent French scholars, including the renowned French physicist Paul Langevin to form The Cooperative, which incorporated a personal gathering of nine students that were children of the most preeminent academics in France. (Source: The Nobel Prize)

Irene Curie’s Personal Life

Irene Curie decided to hyphenate her surname to Joliot-Curie after she got married in 1926. The Joliot-Curies had two children, Helene, born eleven months after the couple got married, and Pierre, born in 1932. 

Between 1941 and 1943 during World War II, Curie caught tuberculosis and was forced to spend time recuperating in Switzerland. In relation to her own health together with the anguish of her husband’s being in the opposition against the Germans took a toll on her well-being.

She did make several risky visits back to France, enduring detention by German troops at the Swiss border on more than just one occasion. Finally, in 1944, Curie decided to take her kids back to Switzerland with her, since it was very dangerous for her family to stay in France. (Source: Woodrow)

Irene Curie’s Notable Discovery in the Field of Radiology

As she approached the end of her doctorate in 1924, Curie was asked to teach the accurate laboratory techniques needed for radiochemical research to the youthful chemical engineer Frédéric Joliot. Two years later, she married Joliot.

In 1928 Curie and her husband Joliot incorporated their research efforts into the study of atomic nuclei. By 1932, the couple had full access to Curie’s mother’s polonium. Experimentations were done using gamma radiation to identify the positron. The couple were able to identify both the positron and neutron but failed to decipher the significance of their results. The discoveries were then claimed by Carl David Anderson and James Chadwick. 

By 1933, the couple was the first to calculate the accurate mass of the neutron and eventually got their name in the scientific community. Their perseverance led to the first artificially discovered radioactive atoms. This paved the way for several medical advances, especially in the fight against cancer. 

The couple was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935. (Source: Woodrow)

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