The Life of Madame Curie
Madame Curie was born Maria Sklodowska on November 7,1867, in Warsaw Poland. Maria was the fifth and youngest child of Bronsilawa Boguska, a pianist, singer, and teacher, and Wladyslaw Sklodowski, a professor of mathematics and physics.
Maria’s accomplishments began at a young age; by the time she was sixteen she had completed secondary school and taken work as a teacher. In 1891 Maria went to Paris, while in Paris Marie attend Sorbonne University and began to follow lectures of many already well known physicists–Jean Perrin, Charles Maurain, and Aime’ Cotton. It was during this time that Marie finally turned towards mathematics and physics. Within three years of attending Sorbonne Marie was already on her way to becoming the most well recognized women in science. Marie was the ideal example of hard work. Receiving her degree in physics from the Sorbonne in 1893, she was not only the first woman to receive such a degree but she graduated number one in her class. In 1894, she received her second degree in mathematics, graduating second in the class.
That same year Marie met Pierre Curie, an aspiring French physicist. A year later Maria Sklodowska became Madame Curie. Marie and Pierre worked as a scientific team, in 1898 their achievements resulted in world importance, in particular the discovery of polonium (which Marie named in honor of Poland) and the discovery of Radium a few months later. The birth of her two daughters, Irene and Eve, in 1897 and 1904 did not interrupt Maria’s work. In 1903, Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Physics. The award jointly awarded to Curie, her husband Pierre, and Henri Becquerel, was for the discovery of radioactivity. In December 1904 she was appointed chief assistant in the laboratory directed by Pierre Curie.
Pierre’s sudden death in April 1906 was a difficult blow to Maria, but a turning point in her career: she was devoted to completing the scientific work they had started. In 1911 her determination paid off, she won a second Nobel Prize (this time in chemistry) for her discovery and isolation of pure radium and radium components. Madam Curie was the first person to ever receive two Nobel Prizes.
Marie Curie was not only a scientific pioneer, but also a social pioneer (Moore 3). A citation from The Graduate Student Cookbook described Marie Curie: Overachiever who cooked, cleaned, discovered radium, and raised a Nobel Prize-winning daughter, but who never forgot how to make a good pierogi. Her many accomplishments were not only astonishing for her time but have yet to be equaled in our time.
The Life of Madame Curie