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Curie, Marie

Curie, Marie

Polish-French physicist and chemist (1867-1934)

Marya Sklodowska was born in Warsaw on 7 November 1867. She was an autodidact who taught herself the principles of physics and chemistry through experiments in her cousin's laboratory. After working as a governess from 1885 to 1891, she started her studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, graduating in physics in 1893 and in mathematics in 1894.

She became the collaborator of Pierre Curie, who she married in 1895. It is under her married name, Madame Curie, that she came to fame as a researcher in radioactivity. After Pierre's death in 1906 she continued doing research. In 1908 she became the first female professor at the Sorbonne. In 1914 she founded the Radium Institute, whose director she became.

Together with her husband she did research into radioactivity, which had been discovered by Henri Becquerel. In 1898 she isolated the element radium and discovered a new element, polonium, which she named after her native country. In 1903 she took her doctoral degree and received - together with Pierre Curie and Henri Bequerel - the Nobel Prize for physics.

In 1911 she received the Nobel Prize a second time, this time for chemistry. At the Radium Institute, research was done on the possible application of radioactive radiations, for example in the fight against cancer. In the First World War she researched radiography and used radiotherapy in the French army.

Regularly exposed to overdoses of radiation during her research, Marie Curie died of leukaemia on 4th July1934.

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