Marie Curie

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  • Topic: Marie Curie, Nobel Prize, Pierre Curie
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Marie Skłodowska Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a physicist and chemist of Polish upbringing and, subsequently, French citizenship. She was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes,[1] receiving one in physics and later, one in chemistry. She was the first woman to serve as professor at the University of Paris. She was born Maria Skłodowska in Warsaw (then Vistula Country, Russian Empire; now Poland) and lived there until she was twenty-four years old. In 1891 she followed her elder sister, Bronisława, to study in Paris, where she obtained her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw. Her husband, Pierre Curie, was a Nobel co-laureate of hers, being awarded a Nobel prize in physics at the same time. Her daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, and son-in-law, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, also received Nobel prizes. Her achievements include the creation of a theory of radioactivity (a term she coined [2]), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two new elements, polonium and radium. Under her direction, the world's first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms (cancers), using radioactive isotopes. While an actively loyal French citizen, she never lost her sense of Polish identity. She named the first new chemical element that she discovered (1898) polonium for her native country,[3] and in 1932 she founded a Radium Institute (now the Maria Skłodowska–Curie Institute of Oncology) in her home town, Warsaw, which was headed by her sister, Bronisława, who was a physician. Maria Skłodowska's birthplace on ulica Freta in Warsaw's "New Town"

Władysław Skłodowski with daughters (from left) Maria, Bronisława, Helena Maria Skłodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland, on 7 November 1867, the fifth and youngest child of well-known teachers Bronisława and Władysław Skłodowski. Maria's older siblings were Zofia (born 1862), Józef (1863), Bronisława (1865), and Helena (1866). Maria's grandfather Józef Skłodowski had been a respected teacher in Lublin, where he had taught the young Bolesław Prus.[4] Her father Władysław Skłodowski taught mathematics and physics, subjects that Maria was to pursue, and he successively, was director of two Warsaw gymnasia for boys, in addition to lodging boys in the family home. Her mother, Bronisława, operated a prestigious Warsaw boarding school for girls. She suffered from tuberculosis and died when Maria was twelve. Maria's father was an atheist and her mother a devout Catholic.[5] Two years earlier, Maria's oldest sibling, Zofia, had died of typhus. The deaths of her mother and sister, according to Robert William Reid, caused Maria to give up Catholicism and become agnostic.[6] When she was ten years old, Maria began attending the boarding school that her mother had operated while she was well; next Maria attended a gymnasium for girls, from which she was graduated on 12 June 1883. She spent the following year in the countryside with her father's relatives, and the next with her father in Warsaw, where she performed some tutoring. On both the paternal and maternal sides, the family had lost their property and fortunes through patriotic involvements in Polish national uprisings. This condemned each subsequent generation, including that of Maria, her elder sisters, and brother to a difficult struggle to get ahead in life.[7]

Krakowskie Przedmieście 66, near Warsaw's Old Town (in the distance). It was here, in 1890–91, that Skłodowska conducted her first scientific work. Maria made an agreement with her sister, Bronisława, that she would give her financial assistance during Bronisława's medical studies in Paris, in exchange for similar assistance two years later.[8] In connection with this, she took a position as governess. First with a lawyer's family in Kraków, then for two years in Ciechanów with a landed family, the Żorawskis, who were...
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