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Marie Curie
1903 Nobel Prize portrait
Born Maria Salomea Skłodowska
(1867-11-07)7 November 1867
Warsaw, Kingdom of Poland, then part of Russian Empire
Died 4 July 1934(1934-07-04) (aged 66)
Passy, Haute-Savoie, France
Aplastic anemia from exposure to radiation
Residence Poland, France
  • Poland (by birth)
  • France (by marriage)
Fields Physics, chemistry
Alma mater
  • University of Paris
Doctoral advisor Gabriel Lippmann
Doctoral students
  • André-Louis Debierne
  • Óscar Moreno
  • Marguerite Perey
  • Émile Henriot
Known for
Notable awards
She is the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences.

Marie Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish and French physicist, chemist and feminist. She did research on radioactivity. She was also the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She was the first woman professor at the University of Paris. She was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes. She received a Nobel Prize in physics for her research on uncontrolled radiation, which was discovered by Henri Becquerel.

Early life

Marie Sklodowska 16 years old
Marie Sklodowska, 16 years old

Curie was born on 7 November 1867 in Warsaw, Poland, as Marie Skłodowska. She lived in Poland until she was 22. At the age of ten, her sister Zofia died. Her mother died two years later. Marie Curie was the fifth child in her family. Her original name was Marya. Her father was a math teacher. He died when she was 11. As a young girl, she was interested in physics. She was top of her high school class. She graduated at 15. Marie taught school so she could earn money to go to school in Paris, France. She also went to an unaccredited college in Poland. Eventually, she left Poland and traveled to France under the name “Marie.” In Paris, she earned higher degrees and did her important scientific work. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw.

Physicist career

Curie did many great things. She and her husband created a theory of radioactivity (a term made by her and her husband Pierre Curie). They found different ways to separate radioactive isotopes and discovered two new elements: radium and polonium. She used her own studies in radioactivity to develop a new treatment for cancer. These treatments used the radioactive isotopes. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. She was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes: one in physics and one in chemistry.

Discovery of Radium

Pierre and Marie Curie
Pierre and Marie Curie in the laboratory

Curie discovered radium. It is one of the most radioactive and dangerous metals. She shared this discovery with Pierre Curie and Gustave Bemont. The three found radium in 1898. They discovered it when using a uranium ore. It gave off a lot of radiation. They decided that it was coming from more than uranium. The group found radium in the uranium. Radium is now used for many different things. For example, doctors used to use it to kill cancer cells. Radium was found in paint and watches. Many workers who made radium-containing products developed bone cancer.

Personal life

Marie Pierre Irene Curie
Pierre, Irène, Marie Curie

Even though Curie became a French citizen, Curie never lost her Polish identity. She graduated first in her class in 1893. One year later she earned a master’s degree in mathematics. Later, she met her husband, Pierre, at the Municipal School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry. They were married in July 1895. They also started to work together on scientific discoveries. Marie and Pierre had their first daughter, Irene, in 1897. Their second daughter, Eve, was born in 1904. Pierre died on April 19, 1906, after he was hit by a horse-drawn wagon.

Fund raising

After the war, Marie started to raise money for a hospital. The hospital raised money for radiation research. She was invited to tour the United States to recommend and speed up her project. She sailed for the United States in 1921. She collected enough money and equipment for a new laboratory. She then started speaking at meetings to raise more money and became a celebrity. She also supported world peace by serving on the council of the League of Nations.


Near the 1920s, Curie and many of her colleagues began to suffer from symptoms of cancer. Curie began to lose her sight. Cararact surgeries to try to bring back her sight did not help. Curie knew that the element (radium) she discovered might have been causing the symptoms, but she did not want to admit it to herself or others. In the early 1930s, Curie’s health started to quickly get worse. Doctors diagnosed her with pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is a blood anemia that happens when someone is overly exposed to radiation. The doctors didn’t tell the public or Curie herself what was going on. On July 4, 1934, at 66 years old, she died in a Sanitorium at the French Alps. She was then buried next to her husband in Sceaux, France.

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