Marie Sklodowska Curie
(Warsaw 1867 - Savoy, France 1934)

Marie Sklodowska, destined to become famous as "Madams Curie", it received the first education in Poland, his/her earth native. In 1891 it transferred him to Paris to continue the university studies, achieving the degree shortly after both in mathematics and in physics. To the university it knew Pierre Curie, that got married in 1895 and with which started to study the phenomenon of the radioactivity, from a little discovered by Henry.Becquerel.
The consorts' studies Curie, to the beginning conducted in the extremely precarious laboratories and without any type of protection, they brought to the discovery of two radioactive elements: the polonio (so called in honor of the earth native of Marie) and the radio. For this they received, together with
H. Becquerel, the Nobel prize for the Physics in 1903. When in the 1906 Pierre it tragically died crushed by a carriage, Marie took over him to the desk to the Sorbona, the first university desk assigned to a woman in France. For his/her following jobs on the radioactivity Marie Curie also received the Nobel prize for the Chemistry in 1911.
During the first world war, together with his/her/their daughter Irene, hocked him to predispose services of field radiology to assuage the sufferings of the soldiers. To the 67 year-old age it died of leukemia, surely consequent to you prolong her exposures to the radiations, of which still the consequences were unknown.



"Marie Curie. It ran away from Poland to go to study in Paris"

The first laboratory in which the consorts Pierre Curie (1859-1906) and Marie Sklodowska (been born in Warsaw in 1867, and united him in marriage with Pierre in 1895) they develop their scientific searches, it consists in a small local belonging vetrato to the school of Physics where he/she works Pierre. And' a store where I/you/they have hoard quintals of stuff and that it also acts from room of the cars; it is I deprive of a suitable electric installation and the air it is saturated of smoke and damp, hostile jurors of the tools of precision with which it is necessary to make the experiments. But Marie doesn't make too much us case, accustomed and almost affectionate to the stoic life and spartana that you/he/she has conducted during the years of study 'crazy and desperate' to Paris.

Run away from his/her beloved Warsaw that interdicted the access to the women to the university, to Paris you/he/she had lived in a minuscule garret that he/she took light from a small skylight.
There was not neither electric light, neither gas, neither water. On the other hand to a room in sharing with other students, the young Pole had decidedly preferred a more modest solution, but in remuneration you/he/she had the whole silence and the concentration necessary to make at the most in his/her studies. The furnishing limited him to the narrow necessary: a cot with an old mattress, a heater, an oil lamp, a tavolino with an only chair, a fornelletto to spirit to prepare the meals, two dishes, a knife, a fork, a spoon, a cup, a casserole, three glasses and a big trunk that it acted from closet and from chair for the guests.

Forty roubles a month were the figure that Marie had to make himself/herself/themselves be enough for every necessity and they was fruit of its earningses as governess when it was in Poland, of the sacrifices of his/her father and part of the salary of his/her sister Bronia, that graduated him in medicine to Paris, few lived away from his/her house. Marie feverishly studied usually the whole day up to the six in the morning and however up to when it was not able of it really anymore. It sometimes forgot him to turn on the heater, or it on purpose avoided to turn on her/it if the coal escort for that month was exhausted and then its fingers became little by little violet from the cold; when it felt the need of a break, it devoted him to the laundry of its threadbare suits, of which by now the plot of the fabric was seen clearly.

Its meals consisted mainly of buttered bread and tea and in little time it became anaemic and subject to frequent faints. To the Sorbona it frequented the lessons of physics, chemistry and mathematics and day after day it learned with always greater surprise and exaltation how much the human brain is able to know. But his/her passion they were the scientific experiments that were held in the laboratory of the university. Marie loved even the air that he breathed in the laboratory, the silence, the almost palpable concentration, the concentration around his/her own still or to the cloak of the fireplace of which gas and malodorous smokes went out. The same atmosphere what time Marie finds again in the closet of the school of Physics, where together with his/her husband it tries to understand from where derives those radiations that Henri Becquerel had noticed examining the salts of uranium.

Becquerel had begun his/her experiments and his/her searches to understand if you radiate similar to the X rays, discovered by Roentgen in 1895, you/they could be issued from the fluorescent bodies under the action of the light. It had so noticed that the salts of uranium remained to the shelter by the light, spontaneously sent forth some radiations. But their action didn't end here. If the mixture of uranium was set above a photographic plate, surrounded by a black paper, this impressed the plate through the paper; besides the rays sent forth by the uranium succeeded in unloading an elettroscopio making conductor the surrounding air. But what Becquerel had not succeeded in discovering, it was from where this energy could derive. The first purpose that Marie is set it is that to measure the power of the rays of uranium to make the air conductor of electricity and to unload an elettroscopio, to measure that is theirs 'power of ionization.'
To get this you/they are used a room of ionization, to reveal the presence of particles ionizzanti, an elettrometro, to measure differences of potential and a quartz piezoelettrico.
This last tool had been invented from Pierre together with his/her/their brother Paul Jacques in 1880, after having discovered that in many crystals as the quartz, the topaz and the chlorate of sodium, submitted to mechanical solicitations, it is gotten, around two opposite faces, an electric position of opposite sign; thanks to this effect, duly these prepared crystals allow to measure with precision quantity a lot of weak of electricity.

After few weeks of experiments and observations, Marie concludes with certainty that the radiations sent forth by the uranium they are not influenced from the light or from the temperature and even from the chemical combination of the uranium; besides the intensity of the radiations is proportional to the quantity of present uranium. But, does he/she wonder the young scientist, because this ownership of the uranium to send forth radiations could not also belong to other chemical elements? After all the discovery on the uranium has been made for pure case. This way Marie gives to examine, one for one, all the known chemical bodies, to come to give base to his/her intuition within little time: also the torio possesses the same ownership, to which the name is given of 'radioactivity' and the bodies that are gifted will have called of it 'radioelementi.' Ascertained then that radioactivity is a characteristic atomic bomb, the following phase of the job of the Curies it consists in the study of all the simple composed bodies and the mineral ones.

Marie realizes that in some mineral ones the intensity of radioactivity is strong and you/he/she cannot be justified from the least quantity of torio and uranium them contained. There is no doubt therefore that it has to exist another substance radioactive very more powerful person of those till now examined. Yet Marie has already checked all the known chemical substances. Does it perhaps mean that another unknown element exists to the science, that sends forth high-intensities radiations?

The life of the Curies entirely spends so almost inside the laboratory, except some rare break for a long run in bicycle through the woods. Pierre meanwhile insignia in the school of Physics and it earns five hundred franchi a month and Marie, after the double degree in physics and mathematics, you/he/she is studying for getting the doctorate. September 12 th 1897 is born Irène and the energies and the attentions that till now the Curies have exclusively devoted to the science, they now have to divide her with their child; nevertheless Marie, as it is in its nature, he doesn't spare and he/she succeeds in not asking sacrifices neither to the one neither to the other of its creatures. He/she writes Bronia to his/her/their sister: "... Our life is always equal. We work a lot, but we sleep well, for which our health doesn't suffer of it. The evening we pass her/it to deal us with the small one. To the morning I dress her/it and I give her something to eat; after that I can generally go out toward the nine. For the whole year we have not been neither to the theater neither to a concert, neither we have made an only visit... There is not that the family of whom feels enormously the lack, and above all you, dear my and dad... I don't have other motives of which to complain me, because health is not bad, the child grows well, and I have the best husband that can be dreamt... And' a true gift of the sky... Our job progresses. I will be busy well soon a lecture on this matter... " (From a letter to 1899 Bronia, Eva Curie, Life of the lady Curie, p. 178)

In the 1898 Marie it communicates to the academy of the Sciences that: "two mineral of uranium: the pitchblende (oxide of uranium) and the calcolite (copper phosphate and of uranite) they are very more assets of the same uranium. The fact must be noticed and it induces to believe that these mineral ones can contain a new element more asset of the uranium... " (From the Accounts of April 12 th 1898, ib., p. 165). Particularly The pitchblende has shown a tall ability to send forth radiations. On the other hand the composition of this mineral it is known and defined, therefore the radioactive hidden element has to be present in quantity so reduced by to be escaped all the preceding examinations. The method to isolate the radioactive body is very banal, but it asks for an endless precision. It deals with decomposing the mineral piece for piece and to eliminate those parts that don't send forth radiations. "... We believe that the substance that we have drawn from the pitchblende contains a metal not yet signalled, next to the bismuth for its analytical ownerships.
If the existence of this new metal will be confirmed, we propose to call him/it polonio, from the name of the country of one of us... " (Accounts, July 1898, ib., p. 168).

And still: "The different reasons that we have enumerated push us to believe that the new radioactive substance contains in itself a new element, to which we propose there to give the name of Radio. The new radioactive substance certainly contains a strong proportion of barium: not ostante this radioactivity is considerable. The radioactivity of the radio enormous dev'essere therefore." (Accounts, December 26 th 1898, ib., p. 170).

The job of the scientist has alone value if each smaller reached conclusion is supported by manifold tests and controprove that confirm her/it and for now the radio of Pierre and Marie you/he/she has been alone 'perceived', but not yet seen and isolated. But as to get of the radio and of the polonio pure? Everything it is necessary to recover the pitchblende in which traces of these substances are found again. The pitchblende is extracted in the mines of Sank Joachimsthal in Boemia and to make to reach her/it Paris means to pay some tall costs. On the other hand the two scientists they don't have choice and, after having made an express account of their savings, they decide to make to be sent at least what it advances of the mineral one after you/he/she has been the uranium drawn out of it. Meanwhile it would be better to find a best setup to bring forth the searches and the experiments. In the courtyard of the school of Physics a wood hut is found once turned to place of dissection of the dead bodies. The roof is of glass, the floor of chapped bitumen; an old tavolaccio, a black blackboard and a fed up with rusted ghisas constitute the furnishing and the manager of the school it doesn't have any difficulty to surrender her/it to the two bridegrooms some bislacchi. Everything seems to go for the best and the second phase of the job you/he/she can have beginning. While Pierre deals with to precisely define more and more the qualities of the radio, Marie tries to get salts of radio to the pure state: "I/you/they have been induced to treat even winds kilograms of material for time, which it had because of to fill the replacement of great vases full of fallen and of liquids. It was a weary job that to transport the containers, to decant the liquids and to shake, for times and times, the subject in ebullition in a container of ghisa" (ib., p. 176).

In reality the hut reveals him very more uncomfortable than that that had thought. In summer, the rays of the sun, filtering through the roof of glass, they turn the place into a hot greenhouse, in winter he freezes and if it rains, water enters from the roof in more points; without counting the winds, that, freely transiting in the replacement, they transport and they deposit anywhere dusts of every kind, while the job of Marie consists of isolating and to purify more precisely the possible the chemical mixtures. The most greater part of the job goes turn to the open one however because the used tools of vent holes are not furnished for the gases. "To that epoch we was entirely absorbed by the new dominion that opened in front of us thanks to an unexpected discovery", it tells Marie. "Despite the difficulties of our conditions of job, we felt there very happy. Our days went by in the laboratory. In our so poor replacement a great calm reigned; at times, guarding some operation, we walked in on and down chatting of the present job and of that future; when we were cold, a cup of tea warm taking near the heater comforted us. We lived with an only worry, as in a dream. ... We didn't see but few people in the laboratory: some chemical, some physicist came every now and then to find us, both to see our experiences, both to ask some suggestion to Pierre Curie... And they were then conversations in front of the blackboard, of those that leave an excellent memory because they act as stimulating of the scientific interest and of the ardor of job, without interrupting the course of the reflections and without upsetting that atmosphere of peace and concentration ch'è the true atmosphere of a laboratory" (ib., p. 176-177).

In this way they spend four years during which, following the frequent publications of the Curies on the ownerships of the radioactivity, in Europe it spreads a depth interest for the matter. André Debierne, French scientist, succeeds in isolating the similar to actinium the radio and George Sagnac together with Pierre Curie hands before of the studies on the electric position transported by the secondary rays of the rays X.

As we have seen, the searches on the radioactivity to which the Maries and Pierre Curie almost devote him with an unbelievable passion and an energy to the limit of their physical possibilities, attract the interest of all the European scientific environments. Unfortunately however the economic difficulties that the two researchers debbono to face they are enormous. Pierre would need the desk of Physics to the Sorbona to be able to earn a notable figure and to loosen the rhythm of life and job of both that threat to cause irreversible yeldings, but the necessary recommendations miss him. He/she leaves the Polytechnic School however and you/he/she is hired as entrusted teacher to the P.C.N. (Physique, Chimie, Sciences naturelle), that allows him to earn a more elevated salary while Marie starts to teach physics to the Superior School of the Girls of Sèvres.

He/she writes one his ex pupil: "Up to our arrival to Sèvres we had believed that physics was entirely learned on the books... Everything changed when we had as teacher Marie Curie. This skilled experimenter was stricken from the poverty of the laboratories of the school of Sèvres and from the insufficiency of the jobs practical, and definite to make up for you... Thick she brought us built instruments or modified behind his/her suggestion, that we used with her. They were simple instruments, our guide however it was so skilled that succeeded even to get the measurements, and nothing was more appassionantes of the to discuss, to done things, with her of the results gotten in common... This way the coldness of Marie Curie, that was only a way of disguising the timidity, hid a humanity and a heat that we didn't delay to discover" (E. Cotton, The Curies, p. 48-50).

However the rhythm of the days is hard; the journey from Paris to Sèvres twice a day it is long and weary and Marie despairs him to the thought that could employ that whole time in his/her laboratory. Tantopiù that the radio seems to want to maintain to all the costs its secret and more this persists him to withstand the science, more Maries it increases the rhythms of job.
In 1902, the battle is defeated and the lady Curie introduces a pure decigram of radio to the whole world from her prepared: the radio exists and has an atomic weight of 225. To the eyes of the whole world the new discovery appears prodigious. The radio has radiations whose intensity is equal to two million times those of the uranium; only a heavy lead plate can stop its rays.
It produces heat, it is bright, some incapable bodies it makes phosphorescent to spontaneously produce light and it infects with his/her radioactivity the bodies with which it comes to contact; it spontaneously sends forth besides a radioactive gas, that will be called subsequently 'radon', which, isolated and confined in a cruet, he evolves and progressively it loses his/her radioactivity: it is the first time that inanimate considered bodies are seen to move and the theory of the evolution of the subject becomes wealthy of new elements.

But the more amazing thing perhaps of everybody it is that the radio is able to kill the cells of the human body. He/she writes Marie: ".. we have had on the hands, during the searches done with products a lot of assets, various actions. The hands have a general tendency to scale off himself/herself/themselves; the extremities of the fingers that have held the pipes or the capsules racchiudenti produced very active become hard and at times very painful; in one of us, the inflammation of the extremities has lasted a two weeks of days and you/he/she is finished with the fall of the skin but the painful sensibility, in head to one month, you/he/she has not disappeared yet" (Life of the lady Curie, p. 202).
Pierre, together to some French physicians, it conducts some studies on animals statements to the radiations and in a first time he/she is thought about being able to recover with this method the lupus and some lacerations of the skin. The academy of the Sciences grants 20.000 franchis to the Curies for the extraction of the subject. The general Society of the chemical products makes his/her own structure to draw the radio without drawing any one profit of it and in 1904 the first factory available you/he/she is founded for the supply of the radio.

The industry of the radio in little time develops all over the world him and the Curies have to choose whether to hold for itself the brevet of manufacture, to sell him/it to dear price or to make him/it of everybody available.
"Of accord with me Pierre Curie gave up drawing a material profit from his/her discovery: we didn't take some brevet and we published without reserve some the results of our searches as the process of preparation of the radio. Besides we have given all the information that solicited to the parties. This has been a great benefit for the industry of the radio which has been able to develop himself/herself/themselves in full liberty, first in France then to the foreign countries, furnishing the products of which you/they had need to the scientists and the physicians" (ib., p. 208).

Marie with his/her discovery also ends his/her thesis of doctorate from the title Searches on the radioactive substances and the errand of the Sorbona it grants her the title of doctor in physical sciences with the mention 'very honorable.' December 10 th 1903 the academy of Sciences in Stockholm publicly communicates that the Nobel prize for the year in progress has been attributed for half to Henri Becquerel and for half to the gentleman and the lady Curie: 70 thousand gold franchis and the fame to world level twist the life of the two modest scientists. Studious of the whole world they ask the presence of Monsieur and Madams Curie to be adjourned in the details on the new discovery.

The consorts as soon as they are able they try to make their colleagues of all of this that know participate, but they escape with every mean the celebration, the awardings, the praises of which you/they would have had need if during the hard years of the search: "We are flooded of letters of visits of photographers and journalists. He/she would like to be able you him to hide under earth to have some peace. We have received a proposal from America to go to make down there a series of lectures on our jobs. They ask us that sum we would like to receive. What that is the conditions, our intention is to refuse. To big punishment we have refused the banquets that wanted to organize in our honor. We refuse with the energy of the desperation and the people it understands that there is no anything from fare"(ib., p. 215).

Their life slightly does him more extended, also thanks to the best economic situation decidedly. They grants some show of painting or some show of avant-garde; they desultorily participate in the receptions in the circles of the scientists and in the meantime the second-born Eve it is born. To the beginning of 1904 finally Pierre gets the desk of Physics to the Sorbona and Marie, that you/he/she has worked free up to this moment and without any title was recognized her, head of the jobs of physics is named near the desk of his/her/their husband. But April 19 th 1906, the tragedy: Pierre dies crushed by a heavy wagon along the Seine while you/he/she is returning from a reunion of teachers. Marie is desperate, but you/he/she cannot release just now and so he/she takes the place of his/her/their husband to the university: it is the first woman to cover such charge; "you/he/she is offered Me to take your succession, my Pietro, your course and the direction of your laboratory. I have accepted. I don't know if I/you/he/she were well or badly. You have often told me that you would have liked ch'io I took a course to the Sorbona. And I would like at least to make an effort to continue the jobs. It sometimes seems me that this would make me easier to live, some other it seems me to be crazy to undertake this" (ib., p. 257).

Also Pierre's laboratory in Rue Cuvier needs attentions and Marie in little time it welcomes about ten scientists apprentices to begin new fetch program. To his/her side there is the friend Andrè Debierne with which he/she succeeds in isolating the radio-metal, to study the rays sent forth alone by the polonio and Marie it discovers a method to dose the radio.
To take care of some illnesses in fact, it is necessary to get millesimi of milligram of substance and the traditional balance it serves to few; it is possible instead to measure the quantity of radio through the radiations that you/they are sent forth. It comes so servant in the laboratory a service of measurement of the radio to all that scientists' disposition, physicians and researchers that they need of it. "The thing most important and precious some laboratory was the intimate contact that was established between students and teachers... Marie Curie was well able to communicate his/her own conviction to every researcher that a conscientious job is the essential base to any scientific search, that a result not founded nothing is not worth, absolutely while, contrarily, a hard-working effort gives an extreme satisfaction" (E. Gleditsch, talked kept to the Sorbona on the occasion of the celebration for the 50° anniversary of the first course of Marie Curie, The Curies, p. 76).

In 1910 the lady Curie introduces his/her candidacy for the admission to the academy of the Sciences. His/her rival is Edouard Branly. A struggle without equal it instigates him among the partisan of the one and the other part: "The women cannot belong to the institute", they exclaim his/her rivals and the day of the election the president it orders to tall voice to the usher: "You allow to enter all, except the women."
For a vote Marie is not elected, but, as his/her daughter says Eve: " in the history of the Curies, it would be said that the foreign countries perpetually corrects the gestures of France" (ib., p. 281) and around one year after the academy of the Sciences in Stockholm he/she confers her the Nobel prize for the Chemistry.
For irony of the fate Marie, that would desire a solitary existence for his/her nature, reserved and distant from the lights of the footlight, are forced to make the accounts with the popularity. Not only. His/her despite, it is one of the first women that with his/her worths you/he/she has pretended to penetrate in the jealous masculine world complaining inside it a role of relief. And this is not accepted. He/she still writes his/her daughter Eve: "As an abrupt gust, the wickedness gets depressed on it and tries to destroy her/it... Maria ch'esercita a masculine work, has chosen among the men his/her own friends, his/her own confidantes. This to be exceptional practices on his/her own intimate, on one of them above all, a deep influence.

It doesn't take more!... you/he/she is accused of upsetting the peace of the families and to dishonor a name that it splendidly brings... Every time that the occasion introduces him to defame this unique woman, as in the days 1911 pains, or to refuse her a title... its origin is lowly reproached her: treated at times time as it snores, German, Jewess, Pole, it is her/it 'foreigner' come to Paris by usurper, to the purpose to conquer illegally a tall situation" (ib., p. 282).

In the 1914 graces to the funds envoys to disposition from the university and from the institute Pasteur is constituted the institute of the Radio in Rue Pierre Curie. It includes two sections: a laboratory of radioactivity that will direct the same Marie and a laboratory of biological searches and Curieterapia, where you/they are brought forth the studies on the crab. After the end of the war, during which Marie together with his/her/their daughter Irene, was given by to do for equipping the military hospitals with instruments for the radiographies and to form personal that he/she knew how to use them, the institute takes full rhythm.
With the untiring usual devotion Marie works for increasing the quantity of salts of radio pure in the world, to always get new and rare radioactive subjects, to create institutes for the treatment of different illnesses, above all the malignant tumor, and to fight the too anarchy that exists in the world of the science, above all as it regards the scientific information.

Marie dies July 4 th 1934, while you/he/she is completing another of his/her jobs, slashed by a pernicious anemia aplastica, consequence of the long exposure to the radioactive substances. It allows us numerous scientific texts, among which, to lines, words as these emerge: "They are among those people whom you/they think that the science has in itself a great beauty. A scientist in the laboratory is not only a technician; you/he/she is also a child set in front of natural phenomenons that impress him/it as they were fables. We have to have a mean to communicate this feeling to the outside; we don't owe lasciar to believe that the scientific progress can be reduced to mechanisms, to cars, to gears that, of however, posseggono also them an own beauty.
I don't even believe that in our world the spirit adventurous risks to disappear. If, around me, I see something vital it is really the spirit of adventure that doesn't seem eradicable and that it resembles to the curiosity. I am prone to believe that it is a primitive instinct of the humanity, and in fact I don't see how the humanity would have been able to subsist you/he/she had been it deprives, equally in which could not survive a completely deprived person of memory. The curiosity and the spirit of adventure are not completely disappeared. We find the spirit of adventure in his/her/their children, to all the ages and all the levels" (The Curies, p. 93).