Marie Curie Essay

Submitted By kweintz16
Words: 1407
Pages: 6

Marie Curie greatly changed the course of the sciences of physics and chemistry. Her contributions eventually led to the saving of people’s lives. Marie Curie was a Polish-born French physicist who worked with her husband, Pierre, also a physicist, for most of her life. She lived between the mid-1800’s and the early 1900’s. Marie’s biggest accomplishments were the two Nobel Prizes she received, making her the first woman to receive one and the first person to ever receive two. She was one of the most famous scientists in history. Marie was born in Warsaw, Poland, on November 7, 1867. Her parents named her Maria, but she later chose to change her first name to Marie. Marie’s maiden name was Sklodowska. At the time, Russia was ruling Poland. Marie’s father lost many jobs because Russian government officials were taking Polish jobs and giving them to unemployed Russians. Because of this, Marie grew up in a poor family. Her family had to rent rooms in their house for money. When Marie was eleven, her mother died of tuberculosis. At this point, she went to work taking care of children in order to help her family. Marie completed high school in 1883 at the age of 15. She was one of the top students in her class and was awarded a gold medal for excellence at her graduation. During this time period, most women would end their education. The University in Warsaw didn’t admit women. However, Marie was so determined to continue her education that she worked as a teacher in Poland until she could earn enough money to move to France in 1891. There, she attended the Univerisity of Sorbonne in Paris. Marie worked extremely hard there. She studied day and night. Within four years at college, Marie had earned a physics degree and a mathematical science degree. During her college years, Marie met Pierre Curie, a hardworking physicist who was known for his study of quartz crystals. After she graduated from the Sorbonne, Pierre gave up space in his laboratory to Marie so she could study the magnetic properties of metals. In 1895, they married. After her wedding, Marie decided to return to the Sorbonne. Her new goal was to earn a Doctorate of Science. To do so, she had to conduct a certain scientific study. Since the discovery of X-rays, many scientists were interested in rays that are emitted from different substances. One French scientist named Henri Becquerel had become curious about the rays emitted from an element called uranium. Marie was also interested in this and decided to follow up Henri’s work. Marie first studied electrical currents that came from the rays of uranium. She soon began looking at different materials and the radiation they gave out. Marie tested one compound called pitchblende, an ore that was mined near what is now the border of Germany and Czechoslovakia. The pitchblende that she tested had been previously stripped of the uranium that it contained for means of manufacturing pottery and glass. Marie was surprised when she found that the pitchblende contained the most radiation out of all the substances she had tested. Since the pitchblende contained no trace of uranium, she knew that it must contain another element that contained all of the radiation. Pierre gave up his work on Quartz crystals to aid his wife in her studies. After much work, the Curies together eventually discovered an element in the pitchblende, which Marie named “polonium” after Poland. A few months later, the Curies discovered another, more powerful element in the pitchblende. They called it “radium”. They found that the radium contained roughly two million times more radioactivity than uranium. The Curies reported their findings to other scientists. Pierre realized that the radium was so strong that it had the ability to destroy harmful cancerous tissue. Patients of cancer began to be treated with radiation. They became well known for their work with radium and radiation for the next four