Marie Curie

  • Birth of Marie Curie

    Birth of Marie Curie
    Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland in1867. Her work on Radioactivity is widely regarded as fundamental in many scientific fields.
  • Early Education

    Early Education
    At 16, Marie won a gold medal for her outstanding success in secondary school due to her "prodigious memory" (Brittanica). Because of her family's economic troubles, she took a position as a math and physics teacher.
  • Move to Paris

    Move to Paris
    Marie leaves Warsaw and moves to Paris to work in Lippmann's research laboratory. She then met Pierre Currie (her future husband and lab partner). Marie hypothesized that certain materials possessed high radioactivity because of other elements present. This drove her to test out her theory by isolating such elements.
  • Marie's Experiments

    Marie's Experiments
    In 1895, using an electrometer that her husband Pierre and his brother had invented, Marie measured the rays emitted from uranium and thorium in mineral samples.
    Marie eventually discovered the strength of radiation emitted from a sample only depended on the amount of the element in the sample.
  • Discovery of elements

    Discovery of elements
    Marie and Pierre discovered polonium and radium. Henri Becquerel had recently discoverd radiation in uranium, and Marie dedicated her research to the isolation of elements to better understand radioactivity and its uses. Previously it was believed that the atom was the smallest particle, but the theory of radioactivity proved that atoms could decompose, emitting subatomic particles as it decays.
  • Radium Separation

    Radium Separation
    Marie and her husband extracted pure radium salts from pitchblende, a radioactive ore. They did this by crystallizing the radium to seperate it from the alkalines. This meticulous work took four years for her to barely produce enough to fill a thimble.
  • Nobel Prize- Physics

    Nobel Prize- Physics
    Marie won a Nobel Prize for Physics with Becquerel for the discovery of radioactivity. She became the first woman in France to earn a PhD in physics, and the first woman ever to recieve a Nobel Prize. Many thought her thesis to be the "greatest single contribution to science ever written" (The Passion of Madame Curie).
  • Radium Chloride

    Radium Chloride
    Around this time, Marie succeeded in isolating enough radium chloride to determine its properties, but found polonium impossible to isolate in its pure state. She therefore decided to focus on radium and its radioactive properties. She discovered radium's radioactive power was a million times more powerful than uranium and produced continuous heat.
  • Nobel Prize- Chemistry

    Nobel Prize- Chemistry
    Marie won her second Nobel Prize, this one in Chemistry, for the discovery of polonium and radium.
  • Death of Marie Curie

    Death of Marie Curie
    Unfortunately, due to her close contact with radioactive materials for many years, Marie died at 66 years old.
    She started to show signs of illness in 1911, and underwent several surgeries, but throughout her career she and her husband experienced fatigue, burns and various illnesses.
    Her discoveries set the stage for modern science.