The Life & Legacy of Marie Curie

Marie Curie, known for her research and work on radioactivity, was born on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw Poland. During her childhood, Marie attended elementary school while her father began to teach her about science at home. Later on, she studied at the Flying University in Warsaw before pursuing a training in science in the same city. Eventually, Marie moved to Paris to continue her education and begin her work on radioactivity – which lead her to develop her theory of radioactivity and become the first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1903 for her work. Marie went on to become the first person to earn two Nobel Peace Prizes when she won a second one in 1911 for her work in the field of chemistry.

Through her work and several techniques that she developed, Marie was able to discover several different radioactive isotopes and elements. Using the electrometer that her husband had developed fifteen years prior, Marie discovered that uranium rays helped to conduct electricity – resulting in her discovery of how uranium compounds depend on the amount of uranium present. She was able to develop a hypothesis that radiation must come from an atom itself, not from some interaction of molecules. After the birth of her daughter Irene, Marie and her husband Pierre continued their work on the subject of radioactivity at a rather home-made looking laboratory near the École normale supérieure, a university located in Paris, France.

It was in that laboratory that Marie and her husband discovered the elements polonium and radium, leading them to create the term radioactivity and begin research on the subject. Marie and her husband continued their work on radioactivity until their deaths in 1934 and 1906 (respectively), with Pierre dying from a car accident and Marie dying from radiation poisoning. Their legacy helped to change the world and the field of science by changing the fundamental way that we think of elements and the way that they interact with and affect the world that we live in.

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