Marie Salomea Sklodowska-Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who pioneered radioactivity research. She was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, the first and only woman to receive the prize twice, and the only person to receive the prize in two scientific fields. Do you know what kind of coffin was made for her after she died?
Marie Curie is interred in a lead-lined coffin from Paris. Because she worked with radium, a substance a million times more radioactive than uranium, her body and notes are highly radioactive. It is said, for the next 1500 years, her notes are to remain radioactive.
The Early Life of Marie Curie
Marie Curie was born Marya Salomee Sklodowska in Warsaw, Poland, on November 7, 1867. She was the youngest of five children, with three older sisters and one brother. Her parents, Wladyslaw and Bronislava, were educators who made sure their daughters, as well as their son, were educated.
Curie finished her secondary education in 1883, at 15, and graduated first in her class. Curie and her older sister, Bronya, wanted to go to university, but the University of Warsaw did not admit women. They had to leave the country to obtain the education they desired. Curie became a governess at 17 to help pay for her sister’s attendance at medical school in Paris. Curie continued her studies independently and traveled to Paris in November 1891.
Curie signed her name as Marie when she registered at the Sorbonne in Paris to appear more French. Curie was a focused and hardworking student who graduated at the top of her class. She received the Alexandrovitch Scholarship for Polish students studying abroad to recognize her abilities. Curie used the scholarship to pay for the classes she needed to complete her licenciateships, or degrees, in physics and mathematics in 1894.
Curie received a research grant from one of her professors to study the steel’s magnetic properties and chemical composition. That research project introduced her to Pierre Curie, another accomplished researcher. In the summer of 1895, the couple married. (Source: Live Science)
Marie Curie’s Nobel Prizes
Curie’s work is reflected in the numerous awards she has received. She received numerous honorary degrees in science, medicine, and law and honorary memberships in learned societies worldwide. In 1903, she and her husband were awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Physics for their research into the spontaneous radiation discovered by Becquerel, who was awarded the other half of the Prize. In 1911, she was awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, for her work in radioactivity.
In 1903, she and her husband were awarded the Davy Medal of the Royal Society. In 1921, President Harding of the United States presented her with one gram of radium in recognition of her contributions to science on behalf of the women of America. (Source: Nobel Prize)
Marie Curie’s Death
Marie Curie died on July 4, 1934, at the age of 66, at the Sancellemoz Sanatorium in Passy, France. Her death was attributed to aplastic pernicious anemia, a condition she developed after years of working with radiation. (Source: Marie Curie)