Marie Curie was born Maria Sklodowska in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland which, at the time, was controlled by the Russians.
At university, Marie studied physics, in which she achieved the top marks. She then started a second degree, this one in maths. She took a job at a laboratory where they worked with magnetics. In her time working in the laboratory, she met Pierre Curie whom she married in 1895.
In 1897, Marie’s first daughter, Irene, was born. In that same year, Marie published her scientific work on magnets. The next year, Marie became interested in the rays that Henri Becquerel had discovered. Along with Pierre, the two started measuring the rays that came from different minerals using a machine called an electrometer, which Pierre had invented. They discovered that a mineral called pitchblende (now known as uraninite) gave off a lot more rays than minerals that had uranium in them. They decided that the rays were coming from a new element they called polonium. A couple of weeks later they discovered another new element that they called radium. They set out to prove the existence of these elements by trying to separate the new elements from rest in the pitchblende. When they succeeded in separating radium, they received a Nobel Prize for physics in 1903. In 1906, Pierre was killed in an accident.
In 1911, Marie won a second Nobel Prize in chemistry. In 1914, the First World War started and Marie tried to get funding in order to put X-ray machines in vans to help doctors save the lives of soldiers. In the 1920s, people began to realize that radium was dangerous. Marie Curie died in 1934 due to aplastic anemia which stops the body creating enough new blood cells and is sometimes caused by radiation exposure. She was buried with Pierre. Both were later moved to the Panthēon in Paris.
Ridley, S. (2014). Super Scientists: Marie Curie. London: Franklin Watts.
Throp, C. (2016). Against The Odds: Marie Curie. London: Raintree