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“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for our own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”
Marie Curie
Physicist, 1867 - 1934

Marie Sklodowska (sklaw DAWF skah) was born November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. She would become famous for her research into radioactivity, and was the first woman to win a Nobel prize.

Marie grew up in a family that valued education. As a young woman she went to Paris to study mathematics, chemistry and physics. She began studying at the Sorbonne in 1891, and was the first woman to teach there. She adopted the French spelling of her name (Marie) and also met Pierre Curie, who taught physics at University of Paris. Marie and Pierre soon married, and teamed up to conduct research on radioactive substances. They found that the uranium ore, or pitchblende, contained much more radioactivity than could be explained solely by the uranium content.

The Curie’s began a search for the source of the radioactivity and discovered two highly radioactive elements, “radium” and “polonium.” The Curie's won the 1903 Nobel prize for physics for their discovery. They shared the award with another French physicist, Antoine Henri Bacquerel, who had discovered natural radioactivity. In 1906 Pierre, overworked and weakened by his prolonged exposure to radiation, died when he was run over by a horse drawn wagon.

Madame Curie continued her work on radioactive elements and won the 1911 Nobel prize for chemistry for isolating radium and studying its chemical properties. In 1914 she helped found the Radium Institute in Paris, and was the Institute's first director. When the first world war broke out, Madame Curie thought X-rays would help to locate bullets and facilitate surgery. It was also important not to move the wounded, so she invented X-ray vans and trained 150 female attendants.

On July 4, 1934, at the age of 67 Madame Curie died of leukemia (aplastic pernicious anemia), thought to have been brought on by exposure to the high levels of radiation involved in her research. After her death the Radium Institute was rename the Curie Institute in her honor.

If you are aware of books, movies, databases, web sites or other information sources about Marie Curie or related subjects, or if you would like to comment, please contact us.

Resource Menu
Books About Marie Curie

Obsessive Genius Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie
by Barbara Goldsmith

A fascinating biography. Goldsmith chronicles Marie Curie’s “tragic and glorious” life, revealing a woman of passion and genius.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Obsessive Genius

Marie Curie: A Biography Marie Curie: A Biography
by Eve Curie and Vincent Sheean

Written by Curie’s daughter, the renowned international activist Eve Curie, this biography chronicles her mother’s legendary achievements in science.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Marie Curie: A Biography

Marie Curie: A Life Marie Curie: A Life
by Susan Quinn

This new biography of Marie Curie includes information drawn from previously unavailable letters Curie wrote to Pierre, after his accidental death. It also draws on correspondence between Curie and Paul Langevin, with whom she had an affair several years after Pierre's death.

Purchase this paperback edition of Marie Curie: A Life

Something Out of Nothing Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium
by Carla Killough McClafferty

McClafferty follows Marie Curie’s career to its final, illness-ridden days, ending with an apt summation of her legacy. Archival photos and substantial multimedia resource lists enhance this study.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Something Out of Nothing

Marie Curie Marie Curie
by Ibi Lepscky, Paolo Cardoni, Illustrator, Marcel Danesi, Translator

Children’s biography focusing on Marie Curie’s childhood, during which she exhibited her sensitivity, intelligence, and scientific curiosity.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Marie Curie

DVDs About Marie Curie

Madame Curie Madame Curie (1943)
Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon star in MGM’s dramatization of the life of Marie Curie.

Purchase this DVD edition of Madame Curie

Marie Curie Online Videos

Mini Marie Curie Bio

Marie Curie eTexts

Marie Curie on radioactivity (1898)

Pierre and Marie Curie's announcement of polonium (1898)

Pierre and Marie Curie and G. Bémont's announcement of radium (1898)

“Pierre Curie” by Marie Curie (1923)

Related Websites

1903 Nobel prize for physics

1911 Nobel prize for chemistry

Essay about Marie and Pierre Curie
Drawn from a lecture given by Nanny Froman at the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 28, 1996

Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity
American Institute of Physics

Institut Curie

Marie Curie Fellows Association
An Association of European Scientists

Marie Curie

Other Physicists/Scientists in the Lucidcafé Library

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