I am sure, you would have noticed the numbers on your table clock glowing in the dark, or those night glow fire exit stickers at many places. I am sure you noticed but never thought about it. Well, these are made of radium. Radium is a radioactive element which was discovered by Marie Curie.
And now you would be wondering “who is Marie Curie”. Well she was a great scientist who was awarded the Nobel Prize twice. Her story is inspirational and tells that we must never give up and keep trying to achieve our goals.
I am sure you would like to listen to her story.
Marie was born on on 7th November 1867, in Warsaw, Poland. Her childhood name was Maria Sklodowska. Her father was a teacher, but Marie did not attend school during the early years of her childhood. Later, when she joined school, Marie turned out to be a brilliant student. After school she wanted to attend university, but during those days University in Warsaw would not accept women. As during those times Poland was ruled by Russian military, and the laws were strict for females.
Marie and her sister Bronislawa made a plan, that Bronislawa would go to France to study medicine, while Marie would stay in Poland and work to support her sister’s education. Once Bronislawa became a doctor, Marie would go to France to attend University.
Marie worked as governess for some years to support Bronislawa education, and in 1891, at the age of 24, Marie moved to France to complete her studies. She earned Master’s degree in Physics in 1893, and was the top student in the class. In 1894, she won a second degree- this time in Chemistry.
Her hard work and determination made way to her dreams. In the University, she met Pierre, and they married later. They had two daughters, Irene and Eve. Being a mother, did not sway Marie from her goal to become a great scientist. She decided to work towards her PhD. At that time no woman had ever been awarded a PhD in Science in Europe.
For PhD, she decided to work on Uranium. It is a substance, and the rays coming out of this substance can pass through metal. Marie called such substances as radioactive. Marie and her husband Pierre worked together in a small shed of the research institute. In 1903 Marie became the first woman in Europe to earn a PhD. The same year, Marie and Pierre were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of Radioactivity.
After that Pierre became professor at the University of Paris. However, the world was still not very encouraging for woman during those times.
After the discovery of Radioactivity, Marie discovered Radium and Polonium, two radioactive substances. Polonium was named after Poland, Marie’s home country. Unfortunately, Pierre, was killed in a road accident in 1906. So, the University gave his position to Marie. And Marie became the first woman to be a professor at the University of Paris. Tell me why were Marie and Pierre awarded the Nobel Prize in 1903.
In 1911 Marie received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of Radium and Polonium. She was the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes and the only person in history to receive two Nobel prizes in two different subjects.
When the World War I, started in 1914, Marie created mobile X-ray trucks to help the surgeons treat wounded soldiers. It is estimated that over 1 million soldiers were treated with Marie’s X-ray units.
Later Marie raised money to build a research Institute. But slowly, she became increasingly sick. Long exposure to radioactive substances without any safety had damaged her body. She died on July 4th 1934. Marie’s research Institute, now called the Curie Institute is one of the leading medical research centres in the world.
Pip- Trivia Time- Did you know, the unit of measurement of Radioactivity is called “Curie”, named after Marie and Pierre Curie.
I am sure you enjoyed listening to the story of Marie Curie….and I can see most of you filled with energy…after listening to this inspiring story. So what next….take a paper and pen and write about your goal, you could even write it in the comment box below.
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