Imagine being born at a time when women were not even allowed to study, let alone be the only woman in history to have won two Nobel prizes in different disciplines. Now that is a story worth telling.
Born to teacher parents, Maria Sklodowska, was a young and bright lady with a flair towards studying. At the time she was born, Poland was under Russian rule. Women were not allowed to study.
She continued her education in a ‘floating university,’ a set of underground, informal classes held in secret. Now that is an example of a life of hardships and overcoming them.
She also started working as a governess to support her sister. After her sister became a doctor, she supported Maria in moving to Paris and continue her studies.
She began working in a laboratory while continuing her studies and met her would be husband Pierre Curie there. The pair married in 1895. Together they continued their research and went on to find two radioactive substances – one they called polonium and the other radium.
During the First World War, Marie also developed mobile X-ray units that she drove to field hospitals, to find the fractures, bullets and shrapnel in soldiers’ wounds. The trucks were known as ‘petites Curies’ (little Curies).
Marie died in 1934 because of the thing she discovered in the first place. It is believed that she got the disease due to overexposure to radiation.
👉 The Curie family won five Nobel Prizes between them. Marie Curie won for Physics and Chemistry. Her husband Pierre won for Physics. Their daughter Irene won for Chemistry, and, finally, their son-in-law (Henry Labouisse Jr.) was director of UNICEF when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965.
👉 Marie Curie was the first woman in history to win a Nobel Prize in Physics. That same year she became the first woman in France to gain a PhD.
👉 Then again, she won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry becoming the first person (and only woman till date) to win the award in two disciplines.
👉 Marie Curie’s research papers are still highly radioactive and will be for at least 1,500 years. They are stored in lead-lined boxes at the National Library of France.
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