Marie Curie, née Sklodowska
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1903
Born: 7 November 1867, Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland)
Died: 4 July 1934, Sallanches, France
Prize motivation: “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel”
Prize share: 1/4
Also awarded: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1911
Marie Skłodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland, to a family of teachers who believed strongly in education. She moved to Paris to continue her studies and there met Pierre Curie, who became both her husband and colleague in the field of radioactivity. The couple later shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. Marie was widowed in 1906, but continued the couple's work and went on to become the first person ever to be awarded two Nobel Prizes. During World War I, Curie organized mobile X-ray teams. The Curies' daughter, Irene, was also jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside her husband, Frederic Joliot
The 1896 discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel inspired Marie and Pierre Curie to further investigate this phenomenon. They examined many substances and minerals for signs of radioactivity. They found that the mineral pitchblende was more radioactive than uranium and concluded that it must contain other radioactive substances. From it they managed to extract two previously unknown elements, polonium and radium, both more radioactive than uranium.
Their work and discoveries range from the Earth’s climate and our sense of touch to efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.
See them all presented here.